Over 50% of web users now support HTML5 Video

As we roll into 2011, HTML5 video hits a major milestone. 50.5% of web users now support HTML5 video playback. This number was gathered by comparing browser versions that support HTML5 video with StatCounter’s world-wide browser version statistics. HTML5 Video StatisticsThis is a 66% growth in HTML5 video user support since December of 2009. With the expected release of Internet Explorer 9 in the near future, 2011 could see a major increase in websites adopting HTML5 video as their primary playback method. Of browsers that support HTML5 video, Mozilla’s Firefox is the clear leader, with Google’s Chrome in second place. Much of the growth in HTML5 video support can be attributed to Chrome’s success in stealing market share from Internet Explore over the last year.

Video Formats

The format war continues to be a deterrent of HTML5 video adoption, and there’s no clear end in sight. While Apple has helped accelerate HTML5 video by requiring it for video playback on the iPhone, it’s also the one vendor that will not support Google’s WebM/VP8 format, which has the highest potential for becoming the standard format for HTML5 video. Among other reasons, Apple has invested a lot of money in the mp4/h.264 format, including hardware built into iPads and iPhones to decode/encode it. Meaning even if Apple decided to support WebM, it would take more than a simple software update to get WebM to the many iPhone and iPad users. Microsoft has said they will support WebM/VP8 in Internet Explorer 9, however only “when the user has installed a VP8 codec”. Which basically means they won’t support it. Microsoft’s preference for MP4/h.264 was made more obvious with their release of a plugin that allows h.264 to be played back in Firefox on Windows. The following graphs show the support and growth of the different video formats. HTML5 Video Format Statistics WebM had a sharp rise in August as Google released Chrome 6 and pushed out updates to its users. In the following charts you can see different views of how formats are divided among HTML5 video users. The first chart shows user support by combinations of formats. The second compares support of open vs. closed formats. HTML5 Video Format Group Statistics From an HTML5 video perspective, open formats win out significantly over closed formats, with Apple and IE9 hanging on to the last 10%. This may change over the next year with the official release of IE9, unless Microsoft decides to support WebM/VP8 without the need for an additional installation. Finally, if you are interested in the Flash vs. HTML5 debate, Flash is well entrenched and HTML5 video still has a long way to catch up. According to Adobe, Flash is supported by over 99% of web users. Statistics from other sites seem to support this, though according to Omniture (now Adobe), the internet average is 116.8% (sic). Omniture Flash Support Statistic As of Flash 9 update 3 (9.0.115), Flash has supported the MP4/h.264 format for video playback. In the following chart, you can see how considering Flash affects the comparison of video format support. Flash vs. HTML5 Video Statistics However, Adobe has said they will support WebM/VP8 in a later release of Flash. The rate that users upgrade to the latest version of Flash is relatively fast, so this could have a big impact on WebM support when it happens. Overall, Flash will be difficult for HTML5 to dethrone. Beyond user support and format discrepancies there is a long list of features that Flash players have supported for years, which will take time for all browsers to build in. However, many of those features can be built with JavaScript, which allows them to be used across browsers immediately. It’s up to the open source community to build the features people need to accept HTML5 as their primary means of video playback. VideoJS is an open source HTML5 video player and framework that makes it easy to support HTML5 video as well as Flash for older browsers. It provides a consistent interface across browsers and solves many browser/mobile device bugs. There are still quite a few rough edges with HTML5 video, but the many contributors to VideoJS are smoothing those over and expanding VideoJS to meet the needs of web users.