Home YouTube: Flash Still Beats HTML5

YouTube: Flash Still Beats HTML5

The battle between HTML5 and Adobe Flash for dominance over video on the Web is likely to end poorly for one of the two, and lately it’s been looking worse and worse for Flash. Steve Jobs wrote an open letter to the Web stating why Flash would remain banned from iPhones and iPads, and just yesterday, Apple got an “unexpected ally” in its anti-Flash crusade – the adult entertainment industry.

But today, just to keep from making things too cut and dry, Google-owned video site YouTube has come out with a list of its own reasons why Flash is here to stay – for now – and HTML5 simply isn’t qualified to handle the job at hand.

Overall, YouTube software engineer John Harding’s argument comes down to one simple statement: “We need to do more than just point the browser at a video file like the image tag does – there’s a lot more to it than just retrieving and displaying a video.” He goes on to list several points where Flash still beats the up-and-coming HTML5 <video> tag.

In short, Harding says that HTML5 video doesn’t have the more robust features like camera and microphone access, content protection or even full-screen video display. HTML5 also lacks the “robust video streaming” necessary for streaming full movies and live events, as has become more and more common on YouTube. Beyond these features, Flash offers a single video format, whereas the battle over HTML5 video formats (for which Google’s recently introduced WebM as one solution) has not yet been won. This means Flash video can be used wherever Flash is installed, while HTML5 depends on video format and browser – an unacceptable condition for YouTube’s vast user base.

So while Steve Jobs has come out with his reasons for abandoning Flash – from battery life to poor security to poor performance on mobile devices – it looks like YouTube has offered its own laundry list of reasons for keeping Flash on its throne.

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