Our site currently is going to require our users to download a player to view videos they will want to view on our site. The videos get uploaded by users from various sources (smartphones in 3gp format for example).

However most people have Flash on their machines. I am trying to 'make a gentle stand' and tell the team that requiring a download of a video player is not acceptable. My thinking is this:

  • instead of allowing people to upload 3gp and other formats then re-serving the exact format on REQUESTs from our site's users
  • we will instead use a video converter such as FFMpeg to convert every uploaded video to FLV for viewing on flash.
  • so when a user requests to view one of the videos on our site -- boom they probably already have Flash installed so we just play the video in their Flash player.

I feel serving up FLV flash video is best. Does it ring true that requiring, say, a 3gp player download just to view a video is the wrong approach?

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    I will abort mission if viewing videos on a website required a specific and uncommon player to be downloaded first. Please make your videos play in Flash player. You can use Adobe Media Encoder to get your .flv files and then you'll only have to create one "player" which loads in different videos. – Marty Wallace Jun 20 '11 at 4:38
  • This is also my perspective. It interrupts the flow of the user experience (requiring a player download) although I've been forced to admit to my team I have downloaded plug-ins etc. in my web user experience. – wantTheBest Jun 20 '11 at 4:41
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    Here is something to have a look into as well: html5video.org – Marty Wallace Jun 20 '11 at 4:43
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    The need to download a player isn't just cumbersome, it also rings security issues with many users; and it limits the audience to users who actually can download a player. Those in an restricted environment, using a alternative operating system etc. are left out. – user281377 Jun 20 '11 at 12:06
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    Are you going after the mobile market? iOS devices don't do Flash or downloading of viewers other than through the App Store. Many devices do Flash badly, and take a lot of battery power. Are you going after the corporate market? Many corporate users can't download and install anything, but will have Flash. You need to define your intended and potential markets for a useful answer. – David Thornley Jun 20 '11 at 15:38

It depends on the service and the clientele.

If this is a service that they pay for, the customers are people that trust you with their credit card number and will therefore probably trust you enough to download and run a program from you. If it's a free service where you are competing for eyeballs, a video player is an assured showstopper for a vast swatch of your target audience.

If you are targeting office drones and this is the sort of thing that managers force people to look at, then they'll do what they have to. On the flipside of that, a lot of IT shops don't let their drones install their own software.

But even if you can be moderately sure that you have enough sway over your clients to force them through a hoop, why do it? In today's Internet, ease of use is paramount. Anything that acts as a barrier between the customer of the content is going to turn a percentage away.

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