The State of HTML5 Video

Look like the promise of standardizing video delivery with the advent of HTML5 is going to take a little longer to fulfill. As usual, no one cares to agree on how to best serve users.

HTML5 added the <video> tag, theoretically freeing us from using the current de facto standard for video playback, the notoriously crashy Adobe Flash. The reality is sadly, much different. Of all the major browsers, not one of them fully support the tag. Firefox and Chrome can only play HTML5 video if it uses the WebM codec, while IE and Safari will only play back H264-encoded video. When you throw mobile browsers into the mix, things get even more confusing. Most mobile browsers use Webkit, the open source browser platform on which Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome is based. This would be great, but different mobile devices support different profiles and aspects of the highly complex H264 codec, which means potentially more encoding for those devices.

Instead it’s much more important, in the minds of people who should know better, to promote opposing standards and hope to win. Hasn’t anyone learned yet that no one can own the Internet, at least for very long. In any case, be prepared for more workarounds for both users and producers of video.

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