Flash Video Obsolete With HTML 5? Open Video Standards

HTML 5 <video> tag - It's the end of the world as we know it and Flash feels fine? No, probably not. with the prophesied coming of HTML 5 and the video tag, Flash could be on the very short end of a very long stick and the new messiah for online video could take the world by storm. In fact, without some severely significant reasons to continue using it I daresay that it could go the way of the Dodo in regards to online video. I mean seriously. Within a year or so we simply won't need it (though Microsoft will probably either drag their feet or screw up the IE adoption of HTML 5 so maybe that's 2-3 years).
Now, let's not just automatically write off the old bird shall we? I mean it's got a lot of things going for it, it's the old flame we want to keep ignited, not just a Flash in the pan. We've been through a lot with her and well, some of us love her. Simply put, she's everywhere. Everyone is using it, almost everyone has the plugin installed, and nearly every internet user has some idea of what it is so even if they don't have it installed they're more than happy to install it.

If the top ten video sharing platforms happened to instantly switch to HTML 5 when it's ready and browsers are supporting it, will the average internet user even know? No, I highly doubt it.

Plus there is some stuff that Flash can do that the HTML 5 Video Tag cannot. Mainly - interactivity. Overlays, hot spots, etc. These are things that are built into Flash which will not be ready for HML 5's launch. Sure, you'll be able to click the video and go somewhere, but you won't be able to click say a video overlay menu, a hot spot for a specific product (which is placed there purposely and paying you for it to be there and be clicked) and the like. In fact, the HTML 5 Video Tag could very well be a step backward for online video.

No, that's an overstatement. There are multiple other benefits that are more intangible than that clickable video overlay but still as important. These are things like the iPhone. The iPhone has no flash at present for its safari. As soon as Safari supports HTML 5, it supports video in a page. Millions of potential viewers!

Another major intangible is the ease with which the video will be able to be indexed. Sure, you'll still need good descriptions and keywords and the like so it won't be any less work for those of us who create the content. But it will be immensely easier for those who view the content to in fact find it. That's a bonus in itself isn't it?

So what it's going to come down to is this, the way I see it:

Do you want fancy interactions on your video or do you want ease of accessibility for the masses?

Theoretically, if I were the guy leading Adobe's Flash Inititative, I would be talking to the guy that runs Google's search services and say something along the lines of

"Hey man, we like our place in the market, we don't want to lose any marketshare to this 'upstart' HTML 5 Video tag crap. Can't we just play nice and build some way for you to index video served up through our player in a really awesome way so that no one cares that HTML 5 allows them to embed a video without Flash?"

Then to MSN for their new Bing program, and Yahoo and wash, rinse, repeat for every search engine on the planet. Whew, sounds like a lot of work. Maybe it would just be easier if we wait for HTML 5 to mature and build out the interactivity side of things huh?

Really it will boil down to what can be done with each platform. That will probably determine the final outcome of the fight. Firefox is relatively quick on the uptake of new stuff, Flash and HTML not so much. The major difference, the way I see it, is in the interactivity of the video. Other sites have said that everything in Flash can be done in HTML 5 and more. I don't know that EVERYTHING that can be done in Flash, will instantly be available in HTML 5 in regards to video, but I'm willing to take a look at each.

Right now I'm installing the Firefox 3.5 beta so I can begin a deeper look into things. Hopefully I'll have a better vision of the future when I'm done and can give you more accurate prognostications for the future. As for right now? I'm going to simply enjoy the Croatian seaside, and take Friday off.

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 -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://stampingwithprincess.wordpress.com Dana Bincer

    Enjoyed your article...I find your writing style very enjoyable and educational. Sure beats the heck out of me trying to keep up with the latest and greatest by sifting through tons of technical magazines. Your conversational tone keeps it interesting. Your reference to techincal stuff makes it worth while. I added Reel SEO to my Google Reader a few days ago and love the updates.

    I do have issues occasionally with IE7 locking up. When I clicked thru from Google Reader today it worked fine. But when I went to Reel SEO direct IE7 froze. Is this a common problem? My husband said he had issues the other day at work.

    • http://www.reelseo.com/about/mark/ Mark Robertson

      Dana, thanks for the feedback, yes, Christophor has a way with words. Im going to take a look at IE, I tested in in IE6 and didnt have the issues but there are some things that I can do to increase load time and Im working on it ;-) Just for your own experience, I would update to IE8 if I were you, I found it to be much better. I happen to like Chrome and Firefox more, but IE8 is a big improvement over IE7

  • Justin C.

    If flash is going to die, what will be the new dominant codec(s)? And how will the browsers decode them? The cool thing about flash is it's the most ubiquitous.

  • http://blogs.adobe.com/jd/ John Dowdell

    "Right now I’m installing the Firefox 3.5 beta so I can begin a deeper look into things. Hopefully I’ll have a better vision of the future when I’m done and can give you more accurate prognostications for the future."

    Sounds like a good plan. ;-)

    jd/adobe

  • mike

    "In fact, the HTML 5 Video Tag could very well be a step backward for online video."

    Whoa whoa whoa, um... what about that think called javascript?

    Check out the demo:
    http://videos.mozilla.org/serv/blizzard/35days/silverorange-ambient-video/ambient.xhtml

    You obviously need a browser that supports , Secondly, i'd like to see flash do that in real time...

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/ChristophorRick ChristophorRick

    Thanks for the comments eveyone.

    @Dana - Mark is looking into that issue to see if he can replicate it. What version of IE are you using?

    @Justin Right now the codecs look like Ogg Theora + Vorbis. It would be best, for a truly open format, if we could have a codec that had no patents filed on it and was completely in the public domain. So that means either the patent holders on Ogg would have to waive their rights or we need to, as a community, agree on something and either build from the ground up or drive the development of an already existing freely available codec. That would then guarantee that it was truly free and readily available to all without things like patents and licensing fees getting in the way.

  • http://www.goldsteinmedia.com/blog/ Seth Goldstein

    I don't see Flash going by the wayside anytime soon. It's going to take a heck of long time for the world of browsers and coders in general to adopt HTML 5 if ever.

    I'll believe it when I see it. Though HTML 5 sounds really neat.

    -Seth Goldstein
    http://www.goldsteinmedia.com/blog
    http://www.twitter.com/sethgoldstein

  • http://gingertech.net/ Silvia

    When you talk about the lack of interactivity in the HTML5 video element, I believe you haven't understood exactly what it is going to enable. Ever heard of Web 2.0? And that it was caused by something called AJAX (asyncrhonous javascript and XML)? Well, right now Flash and AJAX don't interact easily, because the Flash programmer has to explicitly implement an interface to javascript and then the Web page needs to interact with that. With HTML5 video, there is a standard javascript interface to video. In addition, the video is actually part of the Web page and reacts to CSS and javascript commands - such as the demo that mike pointed out. There are many more impressive demos - I have started making a list on my blog: http://blog.gingertech.net/2009/06/12/cool-html5-... .

  • Dave

    An interesting article Chris, u seem to be leaning towards keeping flash around until we can be sure that HTML 5 is gonna be a suitable replacement.

    I discuss these issue in my article at http://www.tulesblog.com/excited-about-html-5 and I'm more of the opinion that natively supported and standardised anything is a good thing because it should allow us to drop some of this crap and sort out the mess that is the modern web. I'm not specifically referring to Flash, more to stuff like DivX, Quicktime and all that crap but I think that when HTML 5 ripens it will do everything flash can do and better, lets not forget that if we need scripted graphics and animations then we have the canvas tag :)

    I agree with ur sentiment on IE, I really wish something would happen to make them say ok if we dont change we'll get left out but because IE comes with windows it will probably never go away.

  • Sarah Glover

    Is there any way to take an interactive component from a video that is in Flash, transfer it to html5 or some other form of video and embed the interactive component into it?

    Thanks so much!

  • http://www.paragraf.su/ Визитки срочно

    I agree with ur sentiment on IE, I really wish something would happen to make them say ok if we dont change we'll get left out but because IE comes with windows it will probably never go away

    Read more: http://www.reelseo.com/flash-obsolete/#ixzz12q6PYAC0
    Subscribe: http:www.reelseo.com/feed/
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives

  • http://www.paragraf.su/ Визитки срочно

    I agree with ur sentiment on IE, I really wish something would happen to make them say ok if we dont change we'll get left out but because IE comes with windows it will probably never go away

  • Minford10

    IE 9 has done a GREAT job of adopting HTML5. Check out the results of the testing:
    http://test.w3.org/html/tests/reporting/report.htm
    Surprisingly, IE 9 outclassed Chrome and Firefox with its handling of HTML5.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=826209403 John Bogdanski

    Has the iPad killed Flash. Why do I have to settle for doing triple the work for a slide gallery which I can make 100x nicer in flash because steve jobs doesn't want to lose money to hulu.