By Mark Boas
H.264 is a video compression format, which although fairly recently open-sourced – H.264 is ‘patent encumbered’ in other words royalties for its use could be claimed at any time. Currently latest versions of Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari all
support H.264 but Firefox and Opera do not but support an alternative format known as WebM (as does Chrome). However around 13 months ago Google stated their intention to drop H.264 support from Chrome ‘in the coming months’.
A Flash fallback is used when we detect whether HTML5 or a particular format is supported and fall back to a Flash solution if not. At this point it’s worth mentioning that Mobile Safari does not support Flash. NBD in this case means no big deal (for Chrome). The special Flash deal probably alludes to Chrome and Adobe’s deal to bundle Flash with Chrome and Adobe’s intention to drop support for Flash on Linux for browsers other than Chrome. Note that Adobe plan to not support ‘new mobile device configurations’ going forward.
B2G refers to Boot-2-Gecko a new initiative by Mozilla to create a web-based open source mobile operating system.
Note. Whereas there is more room to maneuver with desktop browsers, with mobile devices, speed and battery life are of prime concern. Since currently most, if not all mobile devices that play video, support H.264 decoding directly via hardware, it would be difficult to enter the market with a mobile OS that didn’t support H.264.
I encourage you to expand their tweets to see who else has chimed in. You can see the full discussion here.
WebM vs H.264 Showdown
The second discussion involves David Storey (former Opera Web Evangelist now working for Motorola which has recently been acquired by Google) and Faruk Ateş (‘Entreprenerd’ and former web-standards specialist for Apple). Excerpts follow.
This is the interesting part for me. H.264 and VP8 (the video part of WebM) are both based on Inverse Discrete Cosine Transform for decoding so in theory at least this could happen.
It’s worth pointing out that services exist that will do this for you.
Upload once and have multiple formats available automatically. Vid.ly comes to mind but I’m sure there are others. Although I do think it would be nice to have a package that did something similar which you could install on a server of your choice.
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