Over the past few years, Flash has become an increasingly unpopular as a format for video content. YouTube began supporting a HTML5 solution back in 2010, but now the video service decided HTML5 will be the new default. This move could hint at an shift in YouTube’s long term strategy, and point to hopes of expanding beyond mobile and desktop.
The official blog post from YouTube about the change outlines their strategy quite clearly. By using HTML5 over Flash, the site can offer video to a wider variety of devices. The post notes:
MediaSource Extensions also enable live streaming in game consoles like Xbox and PS4, on devices like Chromecast and in web browsers.
There is also the mention of a new a new video codec, VP9, that will allow smaller video files to contain more information. This means 60fps video and 4K resolution are possible while still reducing the bandwidth demands of the videos themselves.
According to YouTube this is a move towards standardization across the video industry.
Other content providers like Netflix and Vimeo, as well as companies like Microsoft and Apple have embraced HTML5 and been key contributors to its success.
YouTube switching to HTML5 could be the death knell for Flash as a video player. In 2010 as much as 75 percent of the video market was Flash powered. Now HTML5 captures more than 80 percent of the market. The biggest reason for this industry-wide shift is that is HTML5 provides the ability to display video content on mobile.
Google’s streaming stick – Chromecast – already works via HTML5 and the distribution of movies and television programing in the Play store has proven lucrative, so standardization is a smart move. With mentions of Netflix and 4K video, it’s easy to see YouTube is making another investment in large scale content distribution. Let’s just hope the creators who built YouTube don’t lose out. Again.
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