Case Study: Flash Video and iThings

I was working with a client recently who has a lot of traffic to his blog from mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads, he also has a lot of video which was being displayed in a flash player.

The problem – site visitors could not see his videos.

Flash Doesn’t Work On iThings

Apple and Adobe agreed to have a battle, said Apple to Adobe you broke my brand new rattle (excerpt from Apple through the looking glass).

Apple and Adobe had a big falling out recently when Abode created a development process where applications could be run in flash on iThings.  The problem is, they could circumvent the Apple app store with this process.

Apple protected their platorm/spat the dummy to stop uncontrolled |un monetised apps (delete as applicable) and as a result removed support for flash from their mobile devices. Here is what Apple have to say http://www.apple.com/hotnews/thoughts-on-flash/.

A lot of WordPress video plugins which use flash will not show video on iThings.

How Much Traffic Is Mobile?

You may be thinking meh! I don’t get much traffic from mobile devices, but I think you will find you do, a quick check of my stats in Google Analytics shows that 3% of my traffic is from mobile devices.  Not a huge amount, but significant enough to take notice.  Some of my clients have mobile traffic at 10-15% now that is worth taking note of.

This will be growing at an alarming rate over the next few years so it is imperative that you make your site mobile ready.

Many Video Plugins Use Flash

Many of the popular video plugins like WordTube or any of the flowplayer plugins use flash to show the videos on your WordPress site.  They take the native format wrap it in a video player then stream that content in flash.

Try to view that on an Apple product and you will get an error.

The Solution

You need to stream your video in a format iThings play nicely with, this could be a native foramt like mp4 or from a platform the Apple likes.

Here are some of the ways you can get around this

YouTube – embed your videos directly from YouTube rather than using a flash player.  Appel devices recognise YouTube content and open it in the YouTube app that comes with the device.

Stream in a format acceptable – You could encode and stream your videos with Apple’s Quicktime format http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/embed-quicktime/ but this may cause you issues on other browsers without the correct plugin

Find An HTML Video Plugin – A quick search on the plugin repository and you will find plugins like this one http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/html5-and-flash-video-player/ (caveat I’ve not used this one before, don’t give me grief if it does not work).

HTML5 For The Rescue

The new HTML5 standard has video streaming built in, thsi will solve our problems eventually. many plugin developers are scrambling to to an html5 re-write, but this doesn’t help us right now.

This will be the way forward but the plugins are not here yet.

What I Did For My Client

We swapped out the videos to embed YouTube.  I installed and configured the Jetpack plugin and we used the YouTube embed short codes.

He was already using YouTube to host his videos and JW Player to play them, so the chaneg was not that huge just a little tedious to swap over all the code.

Wrap Up

Even the most ardent Apple Fan Bois cannot think banning flash is acceptable, it’s a format generally accepted across the net, but when you buy inot a closed eco-system like Apple’s Apps they get to call the shots.

People love their iThings (I’m and iPhone fan) so you are swimming against hte current if you try to make them match your site choices, my suggestion adapt and make your site mobile ready.

A Mobile Ready WordPress Site

I’ll be talking more about making your site mobile ready in the very near future, it’s a huge thing as more and more people consume internet content, why not join my mailing list to keep up to date with my new posts.

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