The mobile explosion has helped catalyze the rise of HTML5 - a programming language that allows web and app developers to integrate graphics, video, and animation into their content without having to rely on Flash. HTML5 has seemingly endless applications. From the creation of 3D brain scan images to the single coolest music video you will ever watch, HTML5 is changing the way we create and view content on a number of platforms, and for a number of industries.
In just one year, the amount of web video that offers HTML5 has jumped from 10% in January of 2010 to 63% in February 2011. Mediapost points out that this has to do with big players like YouTube, DailyMotion and BlipTV adopting the format.
HTML5 not only offers more creative applications, it also runs faster. BlipTV Co-founder Justin Day explains that this is because unlike Flash, HTML5 runs using native components rather than plug-ins. Day also posits, "open standards and open frameworks are a win-win for all."
Currently, there is a bit of a battle for hearts and minds raging when it comes to video formats. Apple's 'no Flash' dictum has led to increased use of the H.264 format, though Google is also in on the fun with its preferred VP8 or WebM format. Coming in third is Ogg Theora.
Google recently announced that it would no longer support H.264 in Chrome. CNET reports that this is an attempt to avoid royalty fees. “WebM is open source. Apple and Microsoft are members of a patent pool called MPEG-LA that actually licenses the code for H.264 while Mozilla and Opera are stuck paying the licensing fees."
In an article for Poynter, Damon Kiesow suggests that The New York Times pay wall may in fact be a part of a strategy to circumvent iTunes licensing fees. Instead of thinking of the Times' pay structure as an endorsement of print, one can think of it as a means of driving traffic to the Times' mobile site via Safari rather than to their apps.
The iTunes store charges a 30% royalty fee for app usage. This, combined with its strict controls, takes power and profit away from publishers. Kiesow points out that if you look to the cost structure offered by the Times, it is cheaper to purchase web access to its content and simply access it via your web browser on your tablet than it is to purchase its apps.
Kiesow argues that the only thing missing from this equation is HTML5: "The Times site now looks fine on the iPad; its video and interactive graphics are largely compatible with Apple’s non-Flash requirements. But it is not yet a tablet-optimized site like npr.org/tablet, with large, touch-friendly navigation and similar refinements."
So instead of being taxed for placement in the App Store, the Times can simply send subscribers to its mobile site. In the end, the consumer pays less ($195 for Web and Smartphone apps versus $455 for web, tablet, and smartphone apps) for the same content.
Kiesow emphasizes another possible application for HTML5, one that is probably its most useful function, or if he is correct about the Times' strategy, the one that will get the most attention from content providers: HTML5 can give publishers more control over their content while earning them a greater net profit.