Both YouTube and Vimeo have announced support for HTML 5 video on their sites. This is great news for people who are not Flash fans, especially when it comes to videos online. It is also good news for HTML 5 adoption overall. Hopefully we will start to see more and more services begin to support other HTML 5 aspects like the offline capability (would make Gears unnecessary and enable offline capability for Gmail, GCal and other similar services). My wish for 2010 is to have offline support for my Google Apps. Gears is probably the only thing I miss in Firefox 3.6 and Mac OS 10.6 generally.
I was a little disappointed when I read that YouTube and Vimeo only support Chrome and Safari in their HTML 5 roll-out. My first question was why Firefox isn’t supported. Firefox 3.6 has just been released and it supports HTML 5 video, so why isn’t it on the list. After posting a silly question in the comments to the Vimeo post that sounded like it came from a wounded Firefox user, I read the post and comments properly and linked to this page which talks about HTML 5 video in more detail.
It struck me that Firefox’s lack of support for the .mp4 video format is pretty limiting considering that .mp4 is practically a standard on video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo. It would relegate Firefox to 2nd place, if that, for people who watch a lot of video and may transition across to HTML 5 based video as their medium of choice. I’m not too keen on this lack of support either. I am a big Firefox fan and after a while in the browser wilderness, I returned to Firefox as my default browser in a big way. Chrome is my second choice and I often have both browsers running because Chrome seems to handle Google sites a little better sometimes. Safari is around for the odd time I want to use it.
Whatever the motivation, video codec support will be one of the factors influencing browser adoption and more and more online services support HTML 5 video. It also either be a catalyst for further decline in Firefox adoption in favour of Chrome (on this front, Chrome seems to be ahead of practically all the other browsers) or we may yet see the Mozilla Foundation vindicated if more and more services adopt Ogg Theora as their preferred format in the face of increasing H.264 royalties and growing numbers of users viewing video online.