Vimeo follows YouTube to launch HTML 5 video player

In quick succession, YouTube and Vimeo have launched HTML 5 video players, removing the need for many users to use Flash.

Vimeo’s Brad Dougherty says in a blog that the player – out now in beta – will offer three major benefits.

“The player loads right away – no more spinning butterfly thingy. You can jump anywhere in the video, without having to wait for it to buffer,” he says. “Smoother, less jumpy playback (we hope).”

Right now, it only works for users running the latest versions of Safari, Chrome, or IE with Chrome Frame installed. And there are other limitations: videos can’t currently be watched in full-screen mode, and the company warns there may be the odd bug.

But for those users who can live with this, 90 percent of the videos uploaded in the last year will work. Users can give it a go by clicking on the ‘Switch to HTML5 player’ link below most videos on the website.

The announcement follows hard on the heels of news that YouTube is doing the same thing. “Recently, we published a blog post on our pre-spring cleaning effort and your number one request was that YouTube do more with HTML5,” says engineer Kevin Carle in a company blog.

YouTube warns of similar limitations to Vimeo. There won’t be any videos with ads (shame), and it requires the same browsers as the Vimeo player.

You can get the beta here .