YouTube sticking with Flash for now

The Internet video format war is hotting up with YouTube apparently coming down on the side of Adobe's Flash... for the time being at least.

One of the video streaming outfit's software engineers, John Harding, gives his considered opinion on an official blog and, while he sees the merits of an open HTML5 standard, he says that Flash "still has a critical role to play in video distribution".

"It's important to understand what a site like YouTube needs from the browser in order to provide a good experience for viewers as well as content creators," he writes. "We need to do more than just point the browser at a video file like the image tag does - there’s a lot more to it than just retrieving and displaying a video. The tag certainly addresses the basic requirements and is making good progress on meeting others, but it does not currently meet all the needs of a site like YouTube."

Harding reckons, like most in the business, that what we all need an open video format which is fully supported by all of the major browsers. Hopefully one with a properly open source licence, unlike the H.264 codec which is still mired in confusion despite being used by the world and its pet poodle.

"We’re excited about the new WebM project," says Harding. "Google is open sourcing and contributing the VP8 codec to the WebM effort. Google, Mozilla, and Opera have all committed to support WebM, and we have already started making YouTube videos available in the WebM format. Adobe has also committed to support VP8, the video codec for WebM, in an upcoming Flash Player release."

Funny that. What with YouTube being owned by Google.

So the choice is: HTML5 which is still in its infancy, has potentially crippling licensing issues and isn't supported by all of the major browsers; Flash, which is a commercial and proprietory platform owned and controlled by a single company, not to mention being notoriously bloated and buggy; or WebM which is being sent off into the world by the omnipresent Google monster, with all of the scary world-domination issues which that entails.

We're confused and need a bit of a lie down.