Friday, August 27, 2010

The Future of Internet Video

If you're not a user of an iOS device - iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch - you may not be fully aware of the battle that is currently being waged over the future of Internet Video. A year ago, the "state of the art" was based on Adobe's Flash player. But with the rise of the iOS juggernaut and Steve Jobs's refusal to allow Flash on his mobile devices, HTML5 is on the rise. HTML5 includes a new "video" tag in the base specification, so Flash is no longer needed, but now the debate has shifted to which Codec (i.e. the way video is encoded into a file and transported across the internet) will be the future. The two top contenders for the moment are WebM/VP8 - a standard owned by Google and being pushed as royalty-free - and H.264 which is used today for YouTube, iTunes, and most hardware-based encoders.

Up until now, the primary argument against H.264 has been the number of patents involved, and the high licensing fees for people who want to include H.264 in their devices/software which would be prohibitive for Free Software/Open Source groups.

The newest move in this battle was an announcement yesterday from MPEGLA that H.264 would remain royalty-free "forever" for websites and customers to use. This was taken by some to cut the feet out from under WebM/VP8 proponents. But today, Mozilla reminded everyone that this does not mean it is free to software or hardware makers. And until it is, Free Software and Open Source browsers like Firefox may be unable to support it.

This is required reading for anyone interested in the future of TV and movies on the web.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very interesting. thanks