Is the popular Adobe plug-in merely a Flash in the pan with the introduction of the new HTML API? To put is simply; I don’t think so. I think there is plenty of evidence to show Flash still holds an important place in the hearts and browsers of video publishers and viewers alike. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons Flash still has a strong plug-in to stand on – so to speak.
First, there is a rumor circulating that due to the fact that HTML5 handles video through an API it going to be faster than using the Flash plug-in. Now, this might seem logical on first glance. It makes sense that an API (Application Programming Interface) would be faster since no third party application needs to load and potentially hog additional CPU cycles. Well, the fact is that Flash has the ability – on some computers – to use the GPU directly for better hardware acceleration. This simply makes Flash render faster.
Second, HTML5 is simply very young and likely will not be considered a grown up for another five to ten years. There is no guarantee that the standard will be implemented the same on all browsers. Additionally, considering the youngness of this standard it simply doesn’t offer the plethora of options a mature plug-in such as Flash has to offer. Currently, there is no support for buffer controlling and automated adjustments to video Quality. There is also no support for digital rights management or even full-screen video. Some of these features are very important to viewers and publishers and will likely keep Flash alive for the foreseeable future.
Third, and possibly the most important aspect of the Flash player is its ability to embed advertising. The big players in the online video universe such as Hulu and the big three letter networks such as NBC and CBS require the ability to embed advertising into their online videos. HTML5 currently has no mechanism for this and messy work-around will likely be the only way to imitate this functionality that already exists in the Flash player.
I truly think there is plenty of evidence to prove that Flash will be around for a long time to come. Along with all the evidence is the intrinsic understanding of how messy the standards world has always been and the robust solutions that third party vendors have always brought to the table to ease the pain of a browser world that refuses to obey the standards as we wish they would. Yes, it’s getting better out there in many ways. However, if you want to stick with a reliable technology that just works the way it should regardless of the platform – the case for clinging to the third party player is pretty darn strong.