Flash vs. HTML5 Webcasting

HTML5 WebcastingSince we introduced our HTML5 Webcasting Service, we’ve been inundated about questions concerning the difference between Flash and HTML5 from our clients and partners.

Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. The HTML5 specification has been around for a few years, and has recently picked up steam since Google, Microsoft and Apple announced the blocking of Adobe Flash in their newest browsers by the end of the year.

For the past decade installing a browser plug-in such as Flash was the only way to let rich audio and video content run on the web. However, the latest evolution of the standard that defines HTML (HTML5) natively supports on-demand and live video streaming sources (no need for a plug-in like flash).

HTML5 is derived from the open source sector of HTML, and one of its biggest advantages is in the mobile space. Most mobile manufacturers see HTML5 as the future, because HTML5 video content is far more efficient on battery life in contrast to Flash. According to recent research Flash video resulted in a 17% rise in current power draw, and a corresponding reduction in battery life in laptops, and a 12% rise on tablets.

The other benefit for mobile attendees is that since Flash is not supported on browsers, the attendees are forced to download an app from the app store in order to join a webcast. HTML5, on the other hand, allows mobile attendees to instantly join webcasts natively from their mobile browser (no plug-ins or downloads).

The other challenge with Flash technology is the number of different Flash versions that are available on the desktop. Trying to find support for an older version of Flash, while at the same time trying to advance the technology is also one of the reasons HTML5 is being prioritized by desktop browsers.

Opera browser used by some attendees on mobile phones is not supported by HTML5. Additionally, older users of Internet Explorer will have trouble viewing HTML5 content on any version before IE9.

Adaptive-Bitrate Webcast Streaming

Another tremendous advantage that HTML5 Webcasting offers is adaptive bitrate streaming. Adaptive bitrate is where the streaming video display adjusts (or adapts) the quality of the video stream automatically, after detecting the CPU capacity and bandwidth for each end-user, in order to maximize an audiences’ viewing experience regardless of their connection speed or which device they use to playback streaming content.

Each device & type of Internet connection has different capabilities in terms of their efficiency in displaying streaming video without hiccups or interruptions. For example, a desktop PC with a high end graphics video card and a high-speed broadband Internet connection would be able to playback high-definition (HD) video at high resolutions and bitrates, whereas older mobile phones or older laptops running on a slow interned connection, in perhaps a coffee shop, would just freeze up at those speeds. Without adaptive bitrate the webcast host needs to set the streaming quality/speed to the lowest common denominator. Everyone, in this case, would experience a low bit rate video quality. Adaptive bit rate, on the other hand, allows the host to set the speed/quality at the highest possible output. Each individual connection will adapt to the connection speed available for the best viewing experience.

HTML5 video is the future of viewing online media content, but it will still take some time before users across the globe fully adapt to the technology. However, with a strong push from both software and hardware developers Flash may be a thing of the past sooner than later.

Communique Conferencing offers clients the choice of Flash or HTML5 webcast technology.

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