The many limits of HTML5 & Why Flash is not going anytime soon?

Famously or infamously, Steve Jobs showed his disregard for Flash in 2010, it has been 5 years and Flash has been running since. Flash was never a major player for mobiles ever nor it is expected to change in near future. It is expected to stay a lot longer on desktops because of the various functionalities which It handles at ease and has made a legacy since start.

I will point out key technical details, statistics and live examples to describe the limitations of HTML 5 for video related purposes and the efficiency of flash in handling the same.

Firstly, for budding entrepreneurs looking to start a video streaming business soon , check these famous sites out and try their video playback on computer – Nbcnews , bbc , starsports, Lynda, foxnews, udemy, dailymotion . Yes , the video plays on a flash player. A large number of media and e-learning sites rely on flash to provide a customized player which can deliver effective video

streaming along with security.

Pros for Flash

Flash has a long legacy for use in producing certain types of media and players. Years ago it was really the only show in town if you wanted to produce certain types of animation, interactive content or streaming video,”  quotes  James Lyne from Security institute SANS. Flash allows developers to play with pixels and bits which allows for lot of customization and innovative interfaces & technologies to come up.

Flash has a much more mature 2D API and now 3D API. HTML5 Canvas is still primitive, and SVG does not mix and match with HTML as well as it could.

It’s true that browser technology with both html5, video and webgl are improving, but the problem is currently  getting standards and similar implementations across all platforms and browsers.  Given that there is still a significant portion of the globe on Win XP, IE 6 – 8, it is expected that it will be many years before browser penetration will equal the capabilities of the current Flash Player. (See image below)

A Mozilla spokesperson told Business Insider the company will continue supporting the updated version of Flash.[1]

A Microsoft spokesperson was more direct, telling Business Insider the firm plans to continue supporting Flash for the foreseeable future. “We are working with Adobe to include a version of Flash optimised for Microsoft Edge. This optimised Flash component will be shipped as part of Windows 10 and will be serviced through Windows Update as Flash currently does in Windows 8 and 8.1,” said the spokesperson. [1]

Limitations of HTML5 video DRM

Full-fledged HTML5 DRM applications,, require an external software library called a Content Decryption Module (CDM). To date the browser and mobile OS vendors have chosen only to support their own proprietary CDMs (like Adobe Access in the case of Firefox, Widevine for Chrome), which are not interoperable. The table below summarizes which CDM each browser and OS supports.[2]

In name of HTML5 , now there are four CDMs with EME (Encrypted Media Extension). Isn’t this worse kind of fragmentation possible. For using HTML5 video playback with DRM on all browsers and devices, you can’t use keys from a single DRM provider. Choosing a single DRM will make the viewer to install plugins on most of the browsers or devices. And what if a new player tries to come in DRM market on HTML5 , will it be able to make its CDM acceptable on any of the browser ?

With Flash on desktops for all browsers and native sdk for mobiles , VdoCipher in a single go provides DRM across all platforms with the easiest use case of integration.

Way ahead

The major concern with Flash is the security. Adobe continuously fixes security concerns for flash and makes it better with each version. As mentioned in the interviews by Business insider, all browsers have agreed to support flash for still long next time. As so many sites, applications and games are made on flash, it can be expected to last  atleast for 3 years.

HTML5 needs to be more developed and support made easy for it to be accepted as a full fledged solution particularly for DRM purposes.

So currently, one needs to cater to 4 CDM requirements for HTML5 video DRM , pay them separately, integrate in your existing solutions to provide viewer a decent experience. Else, the viewer will have to install a certain plugin for his/her particular browser. One option here is the flash based DRM. Other case can be, for some of the enterprises it might be a lucrative solution to provide their own branded player for all platforms. Lets say for ABC company, providing a player named ABC for all platforms. This player can be built using native technologies.

Visit www.vdocipher.com , for complete solution with secure video streaming for businesses.

References

  1. http://www.businessinsider.in/Why-Adobe-Flash-wont-die-even-though-we-all-want-it-to/articleshow/48087987.cms
  2. http://www.jwplayer.com/blog/premium-html5-video/
  3. http://www.adobe.com/in/products/flashplatformruntimes/statistics.html
  4. http://www.adobe.com/devnet/flashplatform/articles/recent-updates.html

 

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