Originally Posted by geezmo
No. I think this would be plain wrong.
A mid-term solution that would appease both Apple and open web fanatics is: all browsers commit support to at least one common royalty-free codec (any royalty-free codec, doesn't need to be WebM).
This way, everybody would know that at least a fallback is available, and those that need higher resolutions or have other needs could opt to serve or consume video using different codecs (H.264 or any other that appear in the future).
Also this would ensure that existing and new players could at least support a base video format. Opera for example has stated that they can't afford the $6,5 million year/fees required by H.264. Yes for relatively small companies this may be a big deal. I'm sure there are other cases, and also we can't ignore new, non-established players or developers in poor countries that would be out of the game because of the potential fees.
Providing a base codec would also ensure that any software maker, and specially small ones and those that provide software under permissive licenses, could ship that base codec for embedded devices and other targets where the OS doesn't provide the mainstream codec.
And Apple, Microsoft could continue supporting H.264 as their mainstream codec for the web. Firefox, Chrome, Chromium, Opera, Konqueror etc get a plugin to play H.264, and everybody becomes happy.
Doesn't it sound like the perfect solution? Trying to be reasonable here.
Thanks for the reasonable post. At least one of you has something new to say rather than endlessly chasing everyone around in circles.
Given the available choices for a royalty-free codec/wrapper - Theora and WebM - I'm glad it looks like people are moving to WebM because at least it's better than Theora. However, being better than Theora doesn't stop it being much worse than H.264 for a variety of reasons, chiefly:
- hardware support
- efficiency (i.e. video quality at a given bitrate)
- encoding tools
You may contend that hardware support for WebM is "coming", but a move to WebM now immediately obsolesces all mobile handsets currently in use and I find that deeply wasteful. And even when we do get hardware support, that's not going to be able to do anything about WebM's poor video quality.
I think what you've missed is the thing we find most abhorrent about Google's move is not the support of WebM, but the simultaneous removal of H.264. You also seem to not appreciate that Opera's and Mozilla's reasons for not including support for H.264 are blindly ideological and have nothing to do with finances despite what they may say. It is well within the realms of technical feasibility for Opera and Mozilla to support H.264 delivered via HTML5 without either entity having to pay licensing fees: for OS X and Windows they can use those OS's built-in support, for Linux they can require the user download and compile a suitable open-source implementation of which there are many (they could easily provide applications to automate this download and compile process, but when has compilation ever been a barrier to a Linux user?).
It has been shown through many different posts in this thread that there is absolutely zero benefit to the end user if web video moves to WebM. A move to WebM gives you poorer battery life, inability to play back high-res video on mobile devices (due to limited CPU power), worse quality video and it doesn't save you a dime. In terms of hardware and software licensing costs, once the costs have been spread over all the devices a given manufacturer sells, the attributable cost of licensing on each individual product sold is negligible. In other words, if the manufacturer didn't have to pay any licensing fees, your product wouldn't be any cheaper. In terms of licensing for the delivery of content, the MPEG-LA as already stated that, in perpetuity, if a content provider wishes to provide their content with no charge to the end user, the content provider need not pay any licensing fees. Fees are only due if the content provider wishes to charge anyway, and again once you spread the cost over all users it becomes negligibly small from the perspective of said end users. So a royalty-free codec would not save you anything here either.
So, where exactly is the benefit of going WebM instead of H.264? Given that it is currently technically inferior to H.264 and offers no benefit to the end user, it seems to me a massive waste of human effort to go around developing hardware encode/decode solutions and trying to improve the software solutions. I'd rather that effort were expended trying to further improve implementations of H.264.