Netflix director of Web engineering Adrian Cockroft teased yesterday that the company was looking into implementing HTML5 on its site — but not in the way you’d initially think. At first, it seemed as if Netflix was readying an HTML5 version of its video player — which would displace the Microsoft Silverlight player it’s currently using.
That’s the angle TechCrunch took in its report, but Cockroft later updated his post in response to the speculation. He made it clear that he was only referring to HTML5 in terms of adding visual and usability flourishes to the site:
I was thinking of HTML5 features that let us build very cool user interfaces with drag-and-drop, canvas transforms etc. for the website, and for embedded TV devices specifically. The Silverlight player is used for PC/Mac playback only, and the basic HTML5 Video doesn’t have a viable DRM solution at this point. I’m the Cloud Architect for Netflix, so my involvement is to architect robust and scalable support in the cloud for these new user interfaces.
Basically, it looks like the Microsoft Silverlight video player is here to stay — at least, for now. Once HTML5 Video becomes more mature and supports strong DRM capabilities, it will become a more viable option. Unfortunately, that will probably take a few years.
Cockroft mentioned that Netflix is in the process of hiring new talent versed in HTML5 and other new web technologies.
In other Netflix news, the company has added the ability to output video to external screens in the latest version (1.0.2) of it’s iPad app. The app supports Apple’s VGA, component, and composite output cables, which run from $29.99 to $49.99. It only supports resolutions up to 1024 by 768 pixels, which is slightly below 720p high-definition resolution. It seems like a good solution if you watch a lot of Netflix streaming content on the go, but there are better choices for your living room that would support Netflix’s HD content — like the Roku box, Playstation 3, or Xbox 360.