A new lease of life has just been breathed into HTML5 video because MPEG LA has just declared that from now on H.264 / MPEG-4 video compression format will be royalty free, forever. Thus far there have been question marks over the future of HTML5 due to the uncertainties over licensing of H.264. But now all doubts have been cleared up!
People behind Flash video and other promoting the development of license-free software, such as the Mozilla foundation had earlier stated that though H.264 was free till 2015, MPEG LA could easily start charging fees post 2015. And their worst fear was that if HTML5 did replace Flash as the primary mode for video on the internet, both businesses and users would have to pay up after 2015.
So, this announcement does allay those fears and as a step further to facilitate end-users MPEG LA has also said that the H.264 will be free as long as video with this encoding is free for users.
And what it means is that sites like YouTube and Vimeo will never have to pay licensing fees for showing videos on the internet, while folks like Apple will continue to pay up for selling videos on iTunes.
This will perhaps be the catalyst that HTML5 needs at the moment, particularly on the Firefox browser. This browser does not support HTML5 video with H.264 encoding yet, because Mozilla chose Ogg Theora, a free codec which was not likely to have licensing issues according to the company.
With this announcement Mozilla will surely support HTML5 just like Chrome, Safari and IE9 browsers do. But just as one mans meat is another mans poison, this may affect Adobe’s business in the coming years.
After all, global acceptance of HTML5 video would probably spell the end of the dominance of Flash on the web-video scene. Though Flash should continue to do well as far as interactive content on web pages is concerned, HTML5 video all that Flash video does and then some and so, time may be running out for Flash Video.
But the biggest problem for Adobe could be if Apple ditches the idea of iOS supporting Flash!