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Hulu Shuns HTML5 Commits to Flash, Adobe Attacks Apple

Gordon Kelly


Hulu Shuns HTML5 Commits to Flash, Adobe Attacks Apple

While Steve Jobs' open letter took Apple and Adobe's battle over Flash to new and nauseating levels (more of later), something with far more real world significance has just fallen in Adobe's favour.

Huge US TV streaming site Hulu has dismissed HTML5 video for now and committed to Flash. On its official blog, the company announced:

"We continue to monitor developments on HTML5, but as of now it doesn’t yet meet all of our customers’ needs. Our player doesn’t just simply stream video, it must also secure the content, handle reporting for our advertisers, render the video using a high performance codec to ensure premium visual quality, communicate back with the server to determine how long to buffer and what bitrate to stream, and dozens of other things that aren’t necessarily visible to the end user. Not all video sites have these needs, but for our business these are all important and often contractual requirements."

Hulu did admit the door wasn't closed on HTML5 saying it would reconsider its stance if these features were added to it in the future and if it was made easier to implement. That said, it does show the argument when delivering dynamic content is a lot more complex than Flash = bad, HTML5 = good. Certainly HTML5 suggests greater promise long term, but for now the standard remains unfinished, its leaning towards H.264 (which requires royalties) means it won't be as open as many had believed and in its current state it remains just as resource hungry as Flash. So neither are perfect.

More positively Hulu did also announce an overhauled service with an enlarged larger player, closed captioning, seek previews (top) and a clever heat map (above) which displays the relative popularity of various sections of that video - perfect for our ever shorter attention spans.

Flash or no Flash stopping messing around Hulu and get that on/off UK launch back on!

In related news Adobe has also hit back at Apple with an advertising campaign every bit as glib and inaccurate as the rant in Jobs' open letter. Posters containing such trite statements as "We *heart* Apple", "We love Flash and HTML5" and "What we don't love is anybody taking away your freedom" turn our cheese alert metres past boiling point.

There are sins on both sides and Apple and Adobe are just as bad as one another, seeking to be open when it suits them and closed when it doesn't - an accusation that could be equally levelled at many tech companies. Apple, Adobe you have businesses to run and strategies to take, we get it. Just grow up and fix these problems at board level and stop whimpering to us about it. Bring solutions, not cat fights (that's my job).


Hulu Blog

legio noctis

May 14, 2010, 10:03 pm

Hmmm. I think what Hulu means is that HTML5 streaming video doesn't meet /its/ needs.

That is, unless there are an unusual number of customers saying "Oh yes: DRM! Just what I've always wanted!"


May 14, 2010, 11:45 pm

You've it it on the nose, legio.

I have yet to meet anyone who wants digital restrictions management on the stuff they buy.

So Steve Jobs wants to alienate a HUGE portion of media on the internet - let him. Let the customers decide whether Apple is worth the premium price, and reduced ability. Yea, flash isn't perfect, but that still isn't a reason to cut off millions of your customers from using it. A kind of "we don't like it, so you can't use it" mentality.


May 15, 2010, 12:01 am

Considering there's so much hardware acceleration support for h.264, I don't understand why people keep on touting the leaning of HTML5 towards h.264 as a bad thing.

Royalties, so friggin' what. This is the real world, where quality costs. Besides, as a consumer, I have yet to see something which had me left gasping: "those damn high prices because of h.264 royalties, oh the humanity...".

I know the royalty shizzel could change in the future and make everything more expensive, but from what I've read, it's not bloody likely.


May 15, 2010, 12:15 am

Everyone knows Apple's claim is nothing to do with Flash being bad... It's to do with control! They do not want people viewing flash videos. They want you to buy videos from iTunes simple as that. They knew HTML5 won't be ready for quite some time... When HTML5 finally becomes ready Apple will make more lame excuses why they will restrict access.


May 15, 2010, 7:25 pm

You Fools Hulu!

Give youself to Lord Jobsey

or be damned!


May 15, 2010, 9:13 pm

No, they mean exactly what they say.

What, you thought that you, the end consumer were the CUSTOMER? Not a chance - we're the product. The actual CUSTOMERS are the media companies and advertisers, and have been for a long time.


May 16, 2010, 12:30 am

Hulu use some fancy ActionScript functions to report usage stats and advertising click-through. Given what Google can achieve with JavaScript - I'd be amazed if Hulu couldn't devise a non-FLASH based approach.

If Adobe are so concerned about freedom and being open - why charge so much for even the most basic edition of FLASH CSx? Seems to me that Apple are often labelled (perhaps rightly) as being greedy - but if you've ever had to settle an invoice with Adobe (other than for their excellent 'Elements' range), you'll know there's a whole other ball-park out there.

As things stand, FLASH content creation is absurdly expensive to break into.

Digital Fury

May 16, 2010, 4:02 am

I don't give a sh*t if Steve likes or doesn't like Flash, Frosted Flakes or whatnot, but he could stop with his contractual shenanigans, "benevolent" dictatorship rulings and artificial crippling of Apple products, and just let the products/techs fight ON THEIR OWN MERIT.

Wow! what a novel and shocking concept I just had there. :-/


May 16, 2010, 1:46 pm

I love the design of Apple kit - but I hate the way you feel like you've just borrowed it from them and they retain the right to tell you what you can do with it.

If you bought a laptop and the manufacturer told you that you could only run applications on it that came from their own defined list of apps - sold and distributed by them. That you couldn't use any app you cared to purchase from anywhere - and that part of the deal was for the privilege you also got to provide them with all your personal details, purchasing habits, and browsing habits - you'd think twice before buying.

I love Apple design - but I hate what they have come to be


May 16, 2010, 4:21 pm

@baileys coffee

I dunno what the hell hulu is, but saying "Google do it, why not you" is hardly very "open" is it. As for HTML5 and CSS3 im getting increasing amounts of "bad" experiences on the web with so called developers using it.

I think more of this boils down to the battery in these noddy Apple products getting eaten alive by intrusive equally crappy flash adverts on the web. Flash was and still reasonably great it's the people who use it.


May 16, 2010, 5:42 pm

@hank - I'm just commenting on the battle between two companies (Adobe and Apple) - both with very closed ecosystems - who are both now trying to position themselves as being open and the punter's best friend (I am currently an iPhone 3G owner BTW).

Whilst Google have their own foibles - at least they do use open standards to create some really interesting and useful tech that the public can actually use without spending a four figure sum (Adobe take note).

My feelings on FLASH are mixed - it is good to have a way to present more dynamic & interactive content - but with Adobe's pricing structure, it has priced content creation out of the reach of home/amateur users.

HTML5 on the other hand, is truely open and will be free to anyone who is prepared to read-up on it. It will be capable of replicating a large proportion of Flash's functionality / user experience, without content creators being forced to buy anything from either Adobe or Apple.

To put this all into context, if you take a *typical* website (even this one) the FLASH content is typically limited to delivering advertising. Can I live without advertising when surfing on a mobile device? DEFINITELY!

Hamish Campbell

May 16, 2010, 9:48 pm

Hmmm... I wonder if all the adverts have to switch to HTML5 if there are suddenly extremely easy to filter out and in a nice way, compared to flash. Perhaps there is a hint of attack on Googles advert model here?

Ok thats a bit conspiracy theory like, but hey, just cos I'm paranoid, doesn't mean their not watching me.


May 16, 2010, 10:25 pm

@Baileys coffee

First off the bat, I don't understand the "four figure sum" on public use of Adobe products - Flash player is free last time I checked. Are you referring to Adobes creative suite? That's a bunch of professional applications, sure you could use these to create flash content but it would be a waste of money. Adobe price on flash authoring last time I checked ws around the £100 mark.

HTML5 is not "free", if you seriously want to get things done with it you will probably have to purchase something akin to Dreamweaver which again is circa £100. Of course another option is free not so functional editors out there or the humble notepad. I know of no apple centric alternatives maybe you could correct me. I think Apple do a free dev kit but I have no interest in the Goldrush for Iphone/Ipad development. I think they are all junk TBH I can live without GPS it's makes life totally dull and robotic. Games LOL.

TR advertisments are concise and to the point unlike others which invade the browser screen with popup layers and other tricks to combat ad blocks etc.

As for HTML5 and Apple, sure enough "Apple" friendly sites will be bombarded with flash type HTML5 intrusion it will happen.

Finally just my opinion the web is 99.5% full of blandness and junk thanks due to web standards killing creativity. I have the same opinion of Apple's not so open apps and stores, I am sure you will disagree.

The medium is pretty dead for me, it's openess has killed many a startup's dream, anybody can copy your idea on the web, the humble websitelogo.gif has a lot answer for sifting through the dull drab grays and whites of the web.

Apologies if this makes no sense it's hard in the TR 100px by 20px to have any co-ordinated response.

Geoff Richards

May 17, 2010, 12:56 am

I swear we had code that grew the box if you typed a longer comment... I'll find out tomorrow what happened; maybe make the box bigger by default :)


May 17, 2010, 2:41 pm


It's fine as is, I was in moan mode which you will find is the "usual" for me ;)

It cuts down my unneccessary over long posts too PLEASE KEEP IT AS IT IS for all our sakes it encourages the post to be concise and to the point like Twitter :)


May 17, 2010, 6:19 pm

@hank - think we have some crossed wires.

I may have an iPhone (for almost 2 years) - that doesn't make me love Apple and if you read again, I am quite critical of some of their practices.

Flash might come in at £100 for an educational license, the rest of us face a bill of around £600 for it in it's least expensive guise (excluding anything that would actually make graphic & animation design pleasurable).

HTML5 as a standard is both free and open - sure, many folks will prefer to use authoring tools, but these are not mandatory.

The point I was trying to make about flash is that if you were to remove the flash content from a site like TR - what are you missing out on as a consumer... nothing more than advertising. The rest of the TR experience remains intact. Flash is not used to represent the content - just the distraction! However, it's these flash-based distractions that help finance TR, hence this debate having many angles and agendas beyond what consumers actually want & need.


May 17, 2010, 9:44 pm

@baileys coffee

I agree with all your points except I have flash it cost me £89.99 full retail version. Maybe if you really want flash shop around. I never accused you of being an Apple luvvie I do not care as long as you are happy with Apple that's all that counts.

I merely stated my dislike for Apple and what they provide and wish upon its users, im sure Mr.Jobs would blow up in private should Adobe ever start a flame war slagging off his products. I have equally no love for Adobe just another corporate but this whole episode has left me thinking Mr.Jobs is a bigger tool than ever.


May 18, 2010, 8:45 am

So here we a major player in online video distribution deduce that Flash is adequate for it's needs. Hardly surprising really when it like many others has invested so heavily in the technology. They're not going to pay much too attention to someone like Steve Jobs and his myopic opinions and vested interests.

@Soliber: If businesses listened to your advice this economy of ours would be in even a bigger mess than it already is.

@Bailey's_Coffee: It's quite clear that you can live without Flash if Apple decrees it so. But what about the many that prefer not to? My nephews are forever playing Flash games on their PC. I myself use Flash sites to open PDF files, edit MP3 tracks, encode videos and much more. Do you speak for us?

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