Commentary

Most Web Video Is HTML5-Ready

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Was it something Steve Jobs said? Less than a year after the Apple CEO's infamous dissing of Flash-based site and video delivery, HTML5 support has accelerated quickly. According to video tech firm MeFeedia's survey of 33,000 sources, the share of Web video available for HTML5 playback has gone from 10% in January 2010 to 63% in February. The big jump has to do with mainstream support by the major players like YouTube, DailyMotion and Blip TV. As the company shows in a blog post, only about a quarter of sites surveyed had HTML5 support as of last May, but that compatibility grew quickly over the summer so that 54% of video was compatible by October.

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When I asked MeFeedia CEO Frank Sinton exactly what HTML5 compatible really means at the moment, he told me it "means video that can be played within the HTML5 video tag, but doesn't necessarily mean that it is fully cross-browser supported, since there isn't broad industry support for one codec." MeFeedia finds that H.264 is the most popular format, constituting the vast majority of video running under the tag. It is followed in popularity by the Google-promoted VP8 (or WebM) format. VP8 is not currently the default playback mode for HTML5 YouTube. It requires a weird manual tweak that adds "&wenm=1" to a search to find VP8 videos.

Of course, MeFeedia's stats are depending on its own index of partners, although they include Hulu, CBS, ABC, Vimeo, Warner Bros. and other heavy broadcasters. HTML5 continues its accelerated ramp up, even as a set standard may evolve over the next couple of years. Winrumors reports that Bing's long-promised HTML5 site is set to launch probably when IE9 is released in a final version. Microsoft recently announced a contest called "Dev Unplugged" designed to encourage HTML5 app development.

At the site, Microsoft says it believes that HTML5 will finally "give developers the tools they need to create experiences that are just as vivid, interactive and high-fidelity we what you have come to expect from native applications without the need for plug-ins." Like Silverlight, we presume?

Another big driver of HTML5 is likely to be mobile access, which is becoming an increased part of the mix. MeFeedia reports that 5% of the video access it now sees on its network comes from mobile browsers, up from only 1% a year ago. 
1 comment about "Most Web Video Is HTML5-Ready".
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  1. John Luther from Google, Inc., March 28, 2011 at 3:16 p.m.

    Just a couple corrections:

    "VP8 is not currently the default playback mode for HTML5 YouTube."

    If the user has joined the YouTube HTML5 experiment and has a WebM-enabled browser (Firefox 4+, Chrome 7+, Opera 10+, IE9 with WebM codecs installed) YouTube will default to WebM if a WebM version of the file is available. IE9 components are at http://www.webmproject.org/ie.

    "It requires a weird manual tweak that adds "&wenm=1" to a search to find VP8 videos.

    The string is "webm=1" not wenm, but users can filter search results using the Search Options links on the YouTube page. See http://www.webmproject.org/users/#playing_on_youtube for instructions.

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