Vimeo Jumps on the HTML5 Bandwagon

Just one day after YouTube made it so that (some of) its users could begin watching (some of) its videos using HTML5 as opposed to Adobe Flash, Vimeo has announced that it will also support the new web standard. With its new HTML5 player, Vimeo says users should have faster loading times and smoother playback of its videos. But just like the YouTube implementation, Vimeo’s HTML5 player has some limitations.

Specifically, Vimeo says the player will only work for about 25 percent of its users — those that are browsing the site with Safari, Chrome or Internet Explorer with Google’s Chrome Frame installed. Because videos are encoded using H.264, other browsers, such as Firefox or Opera, won’t support the player. Also, not all videos on the site will be playable in the HTML5 player; the company says about 10 percent of videos uploaded in the past year, and some 35 percent of all videos it hosts, won’t be compatible.

There are limitations even for those videos that are viewable in the HTML5 player. According to Vimeo, they won’t be able to go full screen due to browser limitations. And the player can’t be embedded outside of, so all embeds will still be played in the Flash player.

While support for HTML5 could theoretically allow users to watch videos without needing a proprietary plugin like Adobe Flash Player or Microsoft Silverlight, as we wrote yesterday, due to a lack of browser standards and a lack of advertising, it will be a while before HTML5 makes good on that promise.

The introduction of the HTML5 player is just the latest in a string of new innovations that Vimeo has launched over the past few weeks, including support for mobile video on iPhone, iPod touch, Android and Palm Pre devices, as well as support for 1080p HD video. To enable the new player, Vimeo users can click “Switch to HTML5 player” under any of the videos on the site. For videos that aren’t viewable in the player, the site will automatically switch back to the Flash player.

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