The HTML5 versus Flash debate has been a hot topic among Web developers for years – and even more in recent years. In fact, the main reason that iOS devices do not support Flash, is because of Steve Jobs’ ardent belief that HTML5 was the future, and Flash was “no longer necessary” as he stated in an open letter in 2010. But no matter what side of the fence you are on, there is no denying the impact of HTML5 on video and the web.
For online video, HTML5 has several things that Flash does not: mobile capabilities and semantic markup. For those of you non tech nerds out there, Wikipedia defines Semantic HTML, as “the use of HTML markup to reinforce the semantics, or meaning, of the information in webpages and web applications rather than merely to define its presentation or look. Semantic HTML is processed by traditional web browsers as well as by many other user agents.” The growth of mobile engagement with interactive video and HTML5’s open structure all combine to create the future of an HTML5-based Web, leaving the player based Flash program in the past.
Since the first version of HTML5 was published back in 2008, mobile has been slated as one of the publishing language’s largest advantages. And since iOS and many Android devices don’t support Flash, Flash is bound to PCs – which, according to Forbes , is a market that has been steadily declining since 2007 – the year the iPhone was launched. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, “Nearly two-thirds of Americans owned a smartphone, and 19% of Americans relied to some degree on a smartphone for accessing online services and information for staying connected, because they lack internet at home, or because they have few options for online access other than their cell phones.”
Those numbers will continue to increase, and companies making Flash-based Videos are missing out on a huge audience by not enabling their videos to run on mobile devices. Now, what does this mean for the world of online events and webcasting you ask? A lot of big name webcasting providers such as INXPO and ON24 are already delivering Cross-Platform HTML5 Based Webcasting. What does that mean? For ON24, it means that regardless of device, all users will have access to the same features in the webcast and it will work across all devices and platforms with no application downloads or installations. With the new INXPO STUDIO, the HTML5 based platform allows responsive interaction for mobile users, simple switching between speakers and locations, and no flash plugin necessary, for greater security and browser coverage.
The future is already here in the world of webcasting and HTML5 and we believe will continue to grow with the high demand for mobile integration, the need to increase security, and to do away with plugins and players.
V2 | Virtual Event Manager
The three most popular conferencing codes are Java, Flash, and HTML5. Our blog in August hinted that although HTML5 has been crowned the heir apparent, it has its flaws. We documented Steve Jobs criticism of the power hungry Flash platform and a subsequent article about Adobe abandoning its Flash IOS development with their recent development of an HTML5 plug-in for Flash further validating that claim. For those of us who make event production our career, HTML5 offers a new world of opportunity that is free of the usual challenges of integration with mobile devices. However, companies that develop with HTML5 will face new challenges regarding security, data collection, and content delivery. These are the primary flaws we alluded to last week – streaming platforms are best utilized when they can safely and securely gather important demographic information about who attends an event, for example. It will therefore be up to developers to create HTML5 platforms that address the holes in the HTML5 boat. More on this in next week’s blog. Now, these challenges are not insurmountable, but rather, they will just require additional development to address. But it’s well worth the added effort.
Most online meetings today require a larger viewing area than what a cell phone or smaller tablet can offer. The HTML5 codec is being hard coded into all of the popular browsers, eliminating the need for a client download. Here is a recent snippet from the ReadWriteWeb blog. Dan Rowinski writes, “Every company that makes a browser has been hard at work to support HTML5 capabilities. That includes Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox as well as smaller browser makers like Dolphin and Opera. Facebook has become a big supporter of HTML5 and introduced a testing suite/browser scorekeeper called Ringmark to test browser capabilities earlier this year.”
According to a Forrester Research report, “Mobilize Your Collaboration Strategy,” 82 million U.S. consumers are expected to have tablets and 159 million to have smart phones by 2015, “with one third or approximately 27 million and 53 million using those tablets and smart phones, respectively for work.” With iPad leading the way among tablets, it’s reasonable to assume that HTML5 will also gain market share with its uniformity and advantage of not being a power hog like Flash.
It is important to remember, HTML5 is a platform in its early stages. The ReadWriteWeb post mentioned above refers to a Gartner report predicting that “next-gen web technologies like HTML5 are still five to 10 years from becoming a suitable basis for businesses.” An online event attendee today is going to have a difficult time consuming any readable content like PowerPoint via their smart phone. It’s up to today’s developers to create and run faster and more reliable HTML5 friendly browsers than their competitors. The faster these browsers advance, the faster the platform will evolve. HTML5 capabilities are available for developers now, so grab your popcorn and watch it take off. It should be an interesting ride! More questions or you just like chatting about these things? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author-Cam Nicholson, V2 Business Development, has been in the conferencing industry for seven years, spending five of those as a UC champion with Microsoft.