Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Google's New Codec War -- Chrome Drops H.264 Support -- Apple, Game On!

Wow! Just when you thought it was safe to transcode your video files and wade into the wonderful world of codecs, Google launches a major shot across the bow to Apple -- and drops H.264 support in Chrome. This came out of nowhere ... nowhere ....

Alas, you likely are scratching your head right now and muttering, "What does this mean to me?"

Thankfully, Coby Rich from my team comes to the rescue to explain the real world ramifications -- here are his thoughts (which are also posted on the Sorenson Media official blog) -- in particular, read the words in bold below:

Is the standards battle back on? Was it ever off?

Today Google announced that they will be dropping support for H.264 in for their Chrome browser in favor of open source codecs such as WebM and Theora.

From the Chromium Blog:
“To that end, we are changing Chrome’s HTML5 video support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project. Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies.

“These changes will occur in the next couple months but we are announcing them now to give content publishers and developers using HTML video an opportunity to make any necessary changes to their sites.”

So, if you are reading this you are most likely thinking: “How will this effect me?” Regardless of this announcement, you still need to deliver video to browsers, including Chrome. Which, by the way, is the default browser for many set top boxes, including GoogleTV. That means that you’ll need tools that can create any number of agnostic files side by side for delivery to any destination. Enter Sorenson Squeeze. Squeeze allows users to encode and deliver video in every popular format for playback on all devices. So, no matter what codec/format/standard emerges victorious Squeeze will be there to encode it in the highest quality possible.

Your move Apple.

CES Redux -- It's Not Just About the Gadgets -- In Fact, the Gadgets Are the Side-Show

Several of us from Sorenson Media just returned from our annual rite of passage that opens every new year -- the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. I just blogged my initial musings yesterday about how I believe this show compared to those of the past couple years.

In addition to my thoughts yesterday, one more thought that may be obvious to many, but perhaps not all -- i.e., CES is NOT just about walking the floors to see the gadgets (more like stumbling and bumbling around the seas of people to peak over someone's shoulder). In fact, few of the gadgets this year really blew me away.

For me, the single most important reason to attend CES, by far, is the face-to-face meeting. As I pointed out yesterday, seemingly "everyone" was at CES this year. That means we had a rare opportunity to efficiently accelerate multiple business discussions in one single 4-day stretch (rather than be forced to individually schedule and meet all of those companies throughout the globe). And, THAT alone is worth the significant investment of time to attend -- and flights, hotels, meals, etc.

Yes, we have technology to help bridge the geographical gap for business meetings (I previously ran live video communications company SightSpeed that touted the business power of that technology). But, nothing will ever replace the power of the good old-fashioned face-to-face meeting.

This year, nine of us attended CES from Sorenson Media. And, each of us essentially had a continuous string of productive face-to-face meetings. THAT is the unique power of CES. THAT is why we will continue to attend year after year. Yes, there are many conferences throughout the year -- too many! But, CES seems to be the one place that attracts everyone. Real business gets done. (The key is active and aggressive follow-up after the dust settles ...)