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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).


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