Browser Adoption of HTML5 Video Continues to Grow, But Still Not Complete

Browser Adoption of HTML5 Video Continues to Grow, But Still Not Complete

LongTail Video just released the update to their longstanding State of HTML5 Video which gives everyone a clear cut, easy to read guide to what parts of the HTML5 <video> tag are supported, by what browser and to what extent. At present, 79% of the market can now play HTML5 video, that's a pretty good percentage and shows that if you've been dragging your feet it's time to think about compatibility.

Aside from the old versions of Internet Explorer (6-8) and some mobile phone browsers, HTML5 video will play just about everywhere. Chrome and Firefox lead the way with 49% of the market and the non-Flash platforms make up for just 17% (iOS, Android and other mobile phones).

Browser/DeviceMarket ShareHTML5 VideoFlash Video
Chrome30%YesYes
Firefox19%YesYes
Internet Explorer 916%YesYes
Internet Explorer 6/7/813%NoYes
Safari4%YesYes
Opera1%YesYes
iOS5%YesNo
Android4%YesNo
Other (feature phones)8%NoNo

Connected TVs and game consoles aren't included in the report. They say it's because the first has too small an install base and the second doesn't have adequate browsing. Additionally, both are more app based anyway.

HTML5 Video File Format

Over the past year we've seen support for WebM dwindle. Android, Google's own OS, only supports MP4 which doesn't bode well for the upstart free media format. Currently only Firefox and Opera are listed as supporting only WebM while Chrome supports both. On the audio front it breaks down the same way, AAC and MP3 are supported on all but Opera and Firefox which are still pushing Vorbis. Meanwhile, Chrome supports all three.

The WebM project hasn't had a blog update since May 11th but over the last year gained hardware decoding and a lot of other support. It seems that everyone's energies have shifted from the MP4/WebM "war" to the HTML5/Flash "war." I know, I often call them wars myself but it's not really, all of them can co-exist and right now, need to because there are some things that can't be done in HTML5 and WebM, plus, competition is good for technology as it helps push things forward.

Browser/DeviceVideo FormatsAudio FormatsMultiple Sources
ChromeMP4, WebMAAC, MP3, VorbisYes
FirefoxWebMVorbisYes
Internet ExplorerMP4AAC, MP3Yes
SafariMP4AAC, MP3Yes
iOSMP4AAC, MP3Yes
AndroidMP4AAC, MP3Yes
OperaWebMVorbisYes
View DetailsView DetailsView Details

From the LongTail report:

Note we have not included the Ogg video format in our tests. This format is not widely used and of lower quality than MP4 and WebM. Firefox 3.6, which is quickly phasing out, is the only browser version that supports Ogg but not WebM today.

What Is and Isn't Supported?

As I just mentioned there are some limitations in what each format can and cannot do and some things that browsers do and don't support. IE doesn't support Preload and it's completely ignored in iOS and Android, as is Autoplay. The mobiles usually skip some controls like volume, as they have buttons for it.

As for IE 9:

Internet Explorer ignores the preload=noneattribute, which prevent the desktop browsers from reaching a perfect score. The implication here is that IE9 loads a part of your MP4 upon each pageview, instead of waiting until a user actually starts the video. This may add to a substantial increase in your streaming costs.

The Javascript API is a bit more complex, still. Android? Nope. (Come on Google!) iOS? Sure, but not Playback or Volume (already discussed). Other than that, loading, buffering, playback, seeking and volume are all supported in the browsers.

Fullscreen is a mixed bag with Opera and IE skipping that control and playback function, everyone else is green light for go!.

HTML5 Text Tracks

Pretty much a major fail all around (except for Safari) is Text Track support. I have to believe there's a major push to get it implemented with the new mandates on closed captions for online video ramping.

Along with closed captions, keyboard control is also needed for accessibility compliance. Chrome and Safari haven't got it. iOS and Android don't always have keyboards which leaves FF, IE and Opera all supporting it. Shame on Chrome and Safari!

Live and Adaptive Streaming

Finally, live streaming is growing in popularity and its business uses, but none of the browsers support it except for Safari and iOS. Meanwhile on the adaptive streaming side....NONE support it. BOO! You would think that iOS and Android would be hard at work to support that. However, LongTail had this to say about it:

Note that every HTML5 browser supports seeking to not-yet-downloaded portions of the video by using HTTP 1.1 range-requests. Compared to Flash (which cannot do that), it reduces the need for adaptive streaming, as it enables the fast seeking feature.

Overall

The LongTail State of HTML5 doesn't address things like DRM which is a key capability if the major studios are going to get on board with allowing their content to flip over. Without DRM they lose control of their content and we all know how much they hate that. Adaptive bitrate streaming might not be a major deal anymore with faster mobile data networks and the abundance of Wi-Fi these days, but it, and live streaming, are still major pieces of the puzzle that need to be solved before HTML5 becomes the overall standard in my opinion. Additionally, there's still that thing about the MP4 license not being completely royalty free as it's owned by a licensing group. That means it's not a completely open and free protocol and that goes against the spirit and letter of the HTML standard.

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About the Author -
Christophor Rick is a freelance writer specializing in technology, new media, video games, IPTV, online video advertising and consumer electronics. His past work has included press releases, copy-writing, travel writing and journalism. He also writes novel-length and short fiction as part of Three-Faced Media . View All Posts By -

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