Just a few weeks ago, a BBC exec warned that the HTML5 standardization process was at risk of being hijacked by companies pushing proprietary implementations of the nascent web standard. Now the BBC is responding by hiring a “senior technologist” of its own whose job it will be to represent the U.K. broadcaster in discussions with standards bodies.
In a blog post today, George Wright, Head of Prototyping for BBC Research and Development, wrote that as part of the broadcaster’s commitment to open standards, it was throwing more resources behind HTML5 development with plans to hire someone to help steer both the standards discussion and internal development of new web applications.
The decision to hire a standards rep comes two weeks after Erik Huggers, director of Future Media & Technology at the BBC, wrote an extensive blog post detailing how HTML5 was not ready for primetime and why the broadcaster was avoiding use of the web standard until some necessary for the delivery and monetization of video were more mature. But Huggers also wrote that the HTML5 standardization process risked “sailing off course” as the result of some companies pushing proprietary implementations of the standard.
The biggest offender is probably Apple, which is also the most notable proponent of HTML5 adoption. Because its mobile devices — like the iPad and iPhone — don’t support Adobe Flash, developers are forced to rely on HTML5 for delivery of web video and interactive applications. But even in Apple’s HTML5 showcase, users are forced to use its Safari browser to access some of the applications.
To combat this, the BBC will now have a place at the table when it comes to standardization discussions, rather than let them be wholly decided on by other parties. The new “Senior Technologist for Internet Standards” will be tapped to increase involvement in discussions with the W3C and other standards bodies, and will work with the BBC’s Future Media & Technology research and development team.
But the new hire won’t just be the BBC’s forward-facing representative for the standards process; the lucky candidate will also be key to helping the broadcaster create new web applications based on the HTML5 standards. According to Wright, the senior technologist will also “create experimental interfaces which address some of the issues Erik mentioned with current standards and guidelines.”
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