Not Everyone May Be Ready for HTML5 Video

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By: Steve Vonder Haar

As much as we would like to think otherwise, there is no free lunch in the world of online video.

Yes, it would be wonderful to tap into technology that makes it possible to wave a magic wand and make all of our video distribution troubles disappear. Maybe you’d even have time left over in your day to have a friend take you out to a long, leisurely lunch. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works down in the online video trenches.

For the most recent evidence of this, just look at some of the hype that has surrounded HTML5. This emerging programming language has long been touted as a magic elixir for organizations looking for a “publish once, distribute everywhere” vehicle.

Indeed, the promise of HTML5 can be intoxicating. In a marketplace dealing with the proliferation of mobile digital devices, HTML5 can be a godsend for publishers. Using HTML5, content creators can develop applications that have the same look and feel whether a user taps into a solution via a desktop computer, a tablet or smartphone from the Apple family of products or any mobile device featuring Google’s Android operating system.

Ahh, the sweetness of standardization. Commonplace headaches for content creators merely float away. No more worrying about how our video or animations look on this device or that device. One little HTML5 wrapper makes it possible to create a single piece of content that works well across all those digital devices that people like to tote around.

And, indeed, HTML5 is a remarkably useful vehicle for bringing standardization to what I like to call “modern” digital devices.

Unfortunately, most of us live in a world where corporate users find themselves stuck in the digital Stone Age.  It is not uncommon, for instance, to see enterprises still using long-in-the-tooth software corporate networks. At some organizations, for instance, switching out a corporate system from its current implementation of aging Internet Explorer 7 or Internet Explorer 8 browsers to a new solution is just more hassle and expense.

Unfortunately, HTML5 offers no miracle solutions that allow older browsers to suddenly support new video formats. Rather, the old browsers support the same tired video options they’ve always supported.

The net result for online video creators working within the confines of HTML5 is that standardized ubiquity remains elusive for those seeking to distribute video to corporate end users. Even if you somehow get HTML5 working in the older browsers, you still have to develop video content in the lowest-common denominator video format suitable for use on devices with browsers that lag behind the times.

So, when it comes to online video in the enterprise, keep in mind that HTML5 is no panacea. Ubiquity for video content creation remains a challenge.

Steve Vonder Haar is a senior analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at


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