Adobe’s Flash platform is coming under increased scrutiny as the iPad gets ready to ship. As a number of big players start thinking about their HTML5 strategy, it’s clear that the “Flash issue” is on everybody’s mind.
Here’s where we come to the Flash problem: Apple famously doesn’t like Adobe’s Flash and won’t support it. When the iPad comes out, the primary video clients will be Apple’s Quicktime and HTML5. The iPad, with its larger screen than the smaller iPhone and iTouch products, will be even a more powerful video and media platform. With Apple representing one of the fastest growing segments of online video, this will put pressure on the Flash empire as it will give users and developers a chance to look at the emerging alternative, HTML5.
HMTL5 is an open standard, which will give it a natural advantage over Flash. Oh, and did we mention that HTML5 will be pushed heavily in all of the coming Google Android-based devices?
Proof that video service companies are nervous about this potential tectonic shift is evident, as video streaming provider Brightcove has announced it is aggressively rolling out an HTML5-based alternative to Flash may be proof enough that that the Flash assault has started. Brightcove has announced a push to add features to HTML5 to “bring it to parity” with Flash by adding advertising and management features.
This is important because Brightcove has long been thought of as a “Flash shop” in the video platform industry. The Web video platforms host and stream videos for media clients, making it easier to manage the video, insert ads, and make sure they’re reaching and functioning in a wide range of devices and browsers.
Brightcove’s CEO and founder, Jeremy Allaire, threw down the gauntlet a few months back when he wrote a lengthy post on TechCrunch describing the coming conflict between Flash and HTML5. The announcement that Brightcove is working hard to “bring HTML5 to parity” with Flash indicates two things 1) Allaire and Brightcove see HTML5 as a legitimate threat to Flash’s dominance in video on the Web 2) They are wisely hedging their bets.
I’m impressed with the Brightcove move because it is the type of the strategic move that is made at crucial inflection points in a company’s history. It shows that Brightcove is not standing still.
But let’s not stop there, other influential video players are taking a closer look at HTML5. The big one? YouTube, of course, which streams billions of videos a day, primarily in Flash. YouTube is one of the largest Web sites in the world, so if they turn away from their Flash roots, something big is happening. It turns out that YouTube has an “experimental” program to test HTML5. My prediction: You’ll see YouTube streaming video in HTML5 by the end of the year.