HTML5 and your content, what to do?
With all the buzz about HTML5, and its list of amazing features which will be the next coming of the next great web technology, how are you prepared to handle the move to HTML5, or should you even start thinking about it?
First, you may be asking yourself, “What is HTML5?” You may even be thinking, “I didn’t know there were 4 previous versions of HTML.” HTML5 is a new set of standards for content delivery over the web which will include some rich media features such as video and other content previously reserved for Adobe’s Flash platform and Microsoft’s Silverlight. Now that you know a bit about what it is, when and how should you approach adopting this new set of standards and how will it affect your customers?
In this connected age of instant gratification on the web, you might think that new technology adoption happens sometimes over night, but you would be wrong. In order for your customers to take advantage of the new features of HTML5, they will need to upgrade their browsers to the latest version of Google’s Chrome browser, or future versions of Firefox or Internet Explorer. I won’t even mention Safari and other small market browsers. This is where the issue of technology adoption comes into to play in how you should plan going forward.
A quick look at reports published by NetMarketShare shows that Internet Explorer still dominates the browser market with over 50% of the browser market. More surprisingly, 16% still use IE 6.0, which according to Wikipedia was released 10 years ago on August 27, 2001. IE6 barely supports modern CSS and causes designers and developers headaches even today. Even though most IE users have made the move to the most modern installment of Microsoft’s product with 28% share, IE7 remains at 16%. This means that more people use an older version of IE than their latest product which was released on March 19, 2009, making it over one and a half years old already.
Firefox 3.6 as the next major browser in the market does support some features of HTML, but with HTML5 video comes some licensing issues down the road with the h264 codec, so Firefox is not supporting it, making YouTube’s new HTML5 platform unavailable to Firefox users.
Considering that only 6% of the market uses Google Chrome, it simply doesn’t have the market penetration you can base future technology decisions on.
Adobe Flash still remains the king of rich media content on the web. With its Flash plug-in in which has nearly a 99% market penetration, it provides you a single platform you know your customers will have. Flash’s advantage is due to the nature of what it is: it is a plug-in to your browser, any browser, no matter the version.
However it may be that its best advantage, and why it will continue to be the Rich Media platform of choice, is the instant upgrade/install process. Have you ever thought twice about clicking the “Install latest version of Flash” option when presented with content in which you must have the latest version? It’s seamless, and painless, while upgrading your browser, or installing a brand new one, just isn’t as accessible to most people who don’t want to take the time to upgrade.
Adobe also have taken their Flash platform to include Flex, and Adobe Air. which allows your content to run directly from the Desktop, again without care of Operating System whether Windows or Apple. If you have Air installed ( another quick install process nearly automated ) within a few clicks your running Air applications on your desktop.
Purely based on the current market conditions, HTML5 is still many, many years from being the default feature set for rich media delivery. In 10 years, it’s possible that 20% of your customers will still be using IE8.
Who should embrace HTML5? Mobile platforms are far more ahead of the curve when it comes to new browser adoption, mostly because it’s rare for people to keep a phone more than 3 years — most of us are continually upgrading. Also a consideration is your target audience. The younger consumer is more apt the be using the latest versions of their choosen browser while older consumers don’t find it a priority to be on the cutting edge of browser versions.
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