Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has announced plans to make a strategic move to HTML5-based streaming, moving away from the Silverlight platform championed by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT). The company is constantly striving for more efficient content delivery, bandwidth restrictions being one of the biggest issues faced by rich media purveyors like Netflix.
Shares in Netflix were up a fraction in trading so far on Tuesday. So far in 2013 the firm’s stock has almost doubled in value, with price spikes driven by an exceptional earnings report, and a move into original content.
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Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has already announced that support for its Silverlight 5 platform will end in 2021. Silverlight is a framework that allows developers to write and users to run rich media on the Web. The major alternatives to the platform are HTML5, Java and Adobe Flash.
One of the disadvantages of Silverlight, highlighted in the Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) blog post announcing the move, is the requirement that users have the plugin installed in their web browser. This makes it slightly more difficult to use the streaming service, and it’s one layer of complication Netflix has decided it can do without.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) began offering an HTML5-based streaming service earlier this year on the Chromebook notebooks championed by Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). The company’s work with Google on that product has provided the basis for the move to full HTML5 implementation.
HTML5 is supported natively by web browsers, though the rich media Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) will offer requires the design and implementation of “HTML5 Premium Video Extensions.” According to the company these extensions, numbered three, will allow HTML5 premium video to be played in a browser without the need for plugins like Silverlight.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) didn’t offer a date at which it will begin to offer HTML5 video to its users, nor did it offer any clues about when it will drop Silverlight support for good. The company will certainly have moved off the service by 2021, and HTML5 implementation should occur sooner rather than later.
Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has been performing remarkably well so far in 2013, and, if the move to HTML5 is as seamless as today’s blog post seems to promise, it will improve its reputation as the top purveyor of streaming content. The extensions it’s working on are, however, open to everyone and it is likely that rivals will also make the change sooner rather than later.