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Flash vs. HTML5 for Virtual Events

Posted by Michael Nelson on May 9, 2018 1:14:00 PM


Since we introduced our HTML5 Virtual Environment Platform V7, we’ve been inundated by our clients and partners running virtual events and virtual trade shows with questions about the difference between Flash and HTML5. The HTML5 specification has been around for a few years and has picked up steam since Google, Microsoft, and Apple announced last year that Adobe Flash would be blocked in their newest browsers.


Before HTML5, Flash was needed for live streaming.

For the past decade, installing a browser plug-in such as Flash was the only way to let rich audio and video content run on the web. However, the latest evolution of the standard that defines HTML (HTML5) natively supports on-demand and live video streaming sources (no need for a plug-in like Flash). 


Benefits of HTML5 over Flash

HTML5 is derived from the open source sector of HTML, and one of its biggest advantages is in the mobile space. Most mobile manufacturers see HTML5 as the future because HTML5 video content is far more energy efficient than Flash, allowing for longer battery life. According to recent research, Flash video resulted in a 17% rise in power draw on laptops—and a corresponding reduction in battery life— and a 12% rise in power draw on tablets.

Another major benefit of HTML5 for mobile virtual event attendees is that it eliminates the need to download an app to join a webcast. Because Flash is not supported on browsers, viewers must install an app on their devices to enable mobile viewing. HTML5, on the other hand, allows mobile attendees to instantly join webcasts natively from their mobile browser with no plug-ins or downloads.

If you use Flash to access streaming content, you need to make sure you're always running a current version. With so many incarnations of Flash available, it can be difficult to find support for older versions. For this reason and the other advantages HTML5 offers, desktop browsers are prioritizing HTML5 over Flash.


Not all platforms support HTML5

Note, however, that the Opera browser used by some attendees on mobile phones does not fully support HTML5. Additionally, older users of Internet Explorer will have trouble-viewing HTML5 content on any version before IE9.


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Editor's note: This article was updated on 5/09/18.

Topics: Virtual Events and Environments