Royalty-free H.264 may clear way for HTML5 standard

26. August 2010
MPEG LA, the firm that controls licensing for a number of video and other standards,  that it will never charge any royalties for Internet video encoded using the H.264 standard that Apple favors, as long as that video is free to end-users.

This is great news, even if it's wrapped in some technical language. When you watch video on your Mac (or your iPhoneiPhone, iPadiPad, or any other device), it's been encoded using one of many standards. Just as with popular audio formats like MP3 and AAC, video formats aim to find the sweet spot between video quality and file size--they want to get as high as they can on the former, and as low as they can on the latter. Alles zu iPad auf Alles zu iPhone auf

Much of the video on the Web these days is presented via Adobe's Flash technology--for example, YouTube's standard, ubiquitous video player. As most iOS users know, Flash video doesn't work with iPhones and iPads. And even on your Mac, watching Flash video requires use of Adobe's Flash plug-in, which many Mac users (including famous ones) find a bit buggy.

As AppleApple has pointed out, many popular Websites have made the move to support HTML5 video alongside or, in some cases, instead of Flash. HTML5 is the latest and greatest version of the Web's core markup language. The new HTML5 standard makes it possible for Websites to embed video that your computer can play without requiring a third-party plugin (like Flash). Alles zu Apple auf

Representatives from browser makers like Apple, Mozilla, and Firefox were involved in the Working Group that advised editor Ian Hickson as he worked on the HTML5 "spec"--the document that governs what is and isn't valid HTML5. (You don't want to know too much about the process of creating these specs; I imagine it's worse than a trip to the sausage factory.) The unfortunate takeaway was this: the big browser developers couldn't agree on which video format the new tag in HTML5 should use: some sided with H.264, others with a format called Ogg Theora.

As Hickson summarized the situation in an e-mail to the Web-standards body WHATWG, Apple refused to implement Ogg Theora in QuickTime--which Safari uses to decode video--"citing lack of hardware support and an uncertain patent landscape." Mozilla and Opera both refused to implement H.264, expressing concerns about its licensing requirements. GoogleGoogle implemented both H.264 decoding (which Apple and QuickTime do support) and Ogg Theora in Chrome, but expressed concern about the quality-per-bit of Ogg Theora video. Alles zu Google auf

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