Vimeo is releasing a “universal player” today that allows user to watch embedded Vimeo videos on mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad using the video playback capability built into the new HTML5 standard.
Vimeo will deliver the optimal player – Flash, HMTL5 or native – based on a user’s browser, as well as the appropriate video definition (HD, SD, mobile) and compression standard (H.264 or WebM, an open format developed for use with HTML5).
The HTML5 video player is a non-proprietary alternative to Adobe’s Flashplayer plug-in. Proponents including Steve Jobs say HTML5 will be more efficient than Flash, but there is still plenty of debate (see our post, YouTube: Flash Still Beats HTML5).
Embeddable HTML5 players have been available to those who can host their own content for awhile, but video-hosting sites have moved more slowly. Paris-based DailyMotion started experimenting with HTML5 over a year ago and is still demonstrating the player, which does not work in Chrome and “will never work in Internet Explorer.”
YouTube has been experimenting with HTML 5 players on YouTube.com, and last month it announced a new embed code style for developers that made videos viewable with an HTML5 player. That feature has not been advertised to the general public, perhaps because YouTube videos with ads are not supported in the HTML5 player yet.
Vimeo also announced a “watch later” button today that will queue videos in a playlist for users to catch up on when they get home from work, for example. The “watch later” feature is also cued up to be added to Vimeo’s Application Programming Interface, or API.