HTML5 Vs. Flash: HTML5 Isn’t Always Better

HTML5 Vs. Flash: HTML5 Isn’t <em>Always</em> Better

Flash has taken quite a beating lately by everyone from Apple (no Flash on iPad or iPhones) to YouTube (transitioning to HTML5 video) to users sick of security exploits and sluggish browsers. Everyone’s looking for the silver bullet that kills Flash, but is HTML5 it?

Video expert Jan Ozer decided to put the most common claim — that Flash video is a CPU hog and that HTML5 will fix this problem — to the test, with a pretty simple methodology:

Since the comparative efficiency of Flash vs. HTML5 seemed easy enough to quantify, I endeavoured to do so, using YouTube’s new HTML5-based player as the test bed. Specifically, I played a YouTube video in the same browser twice, once via HTML5, once via Flash, and measured CPU utilization during playback.

The results (in brief, emphasis ours):


When it comes to efficient video playback, the ability to access hardware acceleration is the single most important factor in the overall CPU load. On Windows, where Flash can access hardware acceleration, the CPU requirements drop to negligible levels. It seems reasonable to assume that if the Flash Player could access GPU-based hardware acceleration on the Mac (or iPod/iPhone/iPad), the difference between the CPU required for HTML5 playback and Flash playback would be very much narrowed, if not eliminated.

We also learned that not all HTML5 browsers/H.264 decoders are created equal. Significantly, with Flash 10.1 deployed, Google’s HTML5 implementation required the most CPU horsepower of all playback scenarios — by far — on the Windows platform. On the Mac, Firefox and Safari with Flash required less CPU horsepower than Chrome’s HTML5 implementation.

At least from a CPU utilization perspective, Flash isn’t BAD and HTML5 isn’t GOOD. It all depends upon the platform and implementation.

Be sure to check out the full post for all the details.

Flash Player: CPU Hog or Hot Tamale? It Depends. [Streaming Learning centre via ReadWriteWeb]


  • Nice unbiased jouralism here!

    You briefly mention the Mac, and JUST say HTML required less horspower. When in fact there was a HUGE difference. Show the chart.

    You had to overtly cut out the part of the image that provided the Mac figures. Why did you go to that effort?

    Lying is best when you only give part of the truth.

    And the one chart you do provide is meaningless when only one browser supports HTML5.

    And what about the fact that Safari’s performance is outstanding with 10.1 of Flash?

    That heading doesn’t make sense with the data provided in this report. The chart provided indicates that HTML5 is worse then any flash implementation on Windows. I’m sure you understood that when you structured this story the way you did.

    Clearly YOU are just trying to be a trouble maker or sensationalist. Your not a journalist, but should work for Today/Tonight or Current Affair.

    • Bernie, Flash has been getting a bad rep, and everyone thinks HTML5 is better at everything, this article, is trying to say that HTML5 is in fact WORSE than Flash.

      The data proves HTML5 uses more CPU than Flash on any platform and only Chrome worked for the HTML5 test.

      This is nothing to do with Apple vs Windows or whatever you are going on about, its simply, HTML5 decoding of videos uses more CPU than Flash did, plain and simple. You obviously didn’t read or misunderstood the whole article.

      • Hi Chris, thanks for the reply. I agree with you, you didn’t read my comment properly.

        I did read the article, and if you look at what I wrote, I did say that the figures provided showed that HTML5 is worse then Flash. Which meant the heading didn’t make sense.

        I also wanted to note that only chrome on windows did HTML5, which meant it wasn’t a balanced test. How do we know that chrome just does it badly (it does it badly on the Mac), so the test is not balanced. You need every browser tested.

        I should also point out that firefox CAN do HTML5, as can Opera and Safari (not sure about IE), they just cant do YOUTUBE because the API isn’t there yet for anyone, just google. So it was an invalid test case.

        There are other test sites that provide HTML5 video for testing on ALL browsers, that’s what should have been used.

        I mentioned the Mac figures being left out because they show a different picture, and that is that HTML5 is a little better on Chrome and 4 times quicker on Safari; yet the author thoughtfully left that out.

        Yes you’re right, this isn’t an issue of apple vs windows. It IS an issue of data being left out to paint the wrong picture. Show all the data and then again do the test properly.

  • personaly i have had alot of problems with flash in windows over the last few months, to the point that i have removed it from IE and firefox.

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