Video online is a big deal. It’s more complicated than audio, and there are a bunch of different ways to deliver it. We don’t really have a standard for maximizing our bandwidth, making sure file sizes are kept lean, while still delivering high quality content. Flash came close to winning, but the iPhone didn’t support it, and playback was often spotty on older phones and tablets.
h.264 is one method for squeezing high quality video into smaller containers for delivery online, but it wasn’t open source. It was a licensed commercial codec, so companies like Mozilla were hesitant to full embrace it in their products, like the Firefox web browser.
Well Cisco has opened up its implementation of this codec allowing developers to make use of it without having to pay licensing costs, and we can expect Mozilla to add official support for it early next year. This will be a great step towards standardizing video content and communication online. What remains to be seen is Google’s response as they’ve been working on their own royalty-free video standard called VP8. Personally, while we might see better support for h.264, I find it unlikely that Google will abandon its own development ceding control of next gen video services to Cisco.
And of course technology marches on, and by the time we’re starting to get settled with a couple solid standards, we’ll start talking about the NEXT next generation video services. Until then, hopefully this improves performance and compatibility for end users starting next year.