H.264 Standardization, The Final Nail In Flash's Coffin

The big news announcement of the day is that MPEG LA, license holder for a number of high profile video standards has declared all h.264 video will be royalty free, so long as the video is provided to the end user for free.

The technical implications of this are lengthy, dull and tedious. The short version? You can now watch porn on any device you want without any additional plugins (cough.. Flash).

With an upsurge in mobile devices, the web has been calling out for a standard movie format to call its own without having to rely on third party codecs or plugins.

With no open source formats available, each browser vendor chose their preferred format, obviously with their own agenda. Apple backed H.264, Mozilla backed the Ogg standard and Internet Explorer scratched its head and wondered why people were so excited about standards.

Regardless of fractured browser support, Google announced in May it was open-sourcing its preferred video format, VP8, assuming this would give it the edge for its own products.

This move by MPEG LA ensures that finally, a standard format can be confidently accepted by browser makers without fear that they will one day be forced to start writing checks.

Written by Toby Leftly

Toby is a Mac nerd, a hardware nerd and a web nerd, rolled into one. You can find him at accentmedia.ca or on Twitter.
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Comments
  • kideh

    Overlooking that Flash does do more than just video, the reason so many content providers are sticking with flash is protecting their content from being easily downloaded or copied. Flash provides and extra layer of obfuscation and gives the copyright holder more control over their content as opposed to posting video in a native device friendly format that anyone capable of a right-click can steal. So add that nail to the bag of nails still in play.

  • http://canadiantechblogger.com Brad

    Mozilla says it still won’t support it because H.265 is coming up, so it could be useless by the time it expires anyways.

  • http://www.madebypanthr.com/ Theron

    I hardly doubt this is the final nail. Even though this may spell the end of flash for video, Flash still can make those lovely games and such. I know what you’re thinking: “HTML5 has SVG support, it can do anything Flash can!” Perhaps, but at the moment you have to hand code the entire animation. Not that easy. And it’ll take a while for HTML5 animation creation software to get to the level of Adobe Flash Professional.

    Besides, IE6 isn’t dead yet. How long will it take for Flash to die?

  • Adi

    Mozilla is already trying to implement WebM Codec on Firefox 4 beta and I don’t think that they will spent more time and resource on implement H.264 too. Although, H.264 is free but it isn’t open-source, Mozilla want everything that embedded in their browser to be open-source not just free. I think Google will do the same too, why they implement H.264 if they already buy and spent resource on WebM ?

    About final nail on Flash, I don’t think so, because Flash have advantage on protecting the content, if you use HTML 5 to play the video, you can download it easily, whether or not it is protected / DRM. Adobe too has anounced their support on WebM codec (although it’s already implemented because WebM is just a modification of VP8) and H.265 codec on the new release of Flash Player.

    And I think Flash won’t die because of video, think about Netflix, Hulu, etc. Because they will need content protection so bad, and there’s still no solution of content protection using HTML 5.

  • http://www.ogvidius.com/ Ogvidius

    I doubt flash will die anytime soon. For streaming video, yes. But that’s 5% of what flash does. As Theron said, until any software becomes available that’s as good as Adobe Flash then HTML5 has no chance of overtaking flash in games, animations etc. Just look at the start screen for Flash CS5 and you can see what it’s targeting: Advertising, Animations, Banners, Media Playback, Presentations etc. These things are being given away as default templates and I can see Flash being widely used in these areas (aside from media playback). Try telling the people on Newgrounds that flash will be dead soon! Still, all that aside, I’m glad that h.264 has become a web standard rather than all these third party options and workarounds. It could do with a catchier name though…

  • http://blakmarkitcreative.com Jon C

    The other side to consider is that the H.264 codec can go within a Flash container.

    As has been said, even though it’s royalty-free for end users, It’s not free for a company like Mozilla. They would still have to pay licensing fees for the rights, and they will never support that. There may never be a *standard*, unless Apple were to shift and support WebM or some other open source solution without the need for a plugin.

  • Andy Ward

    While I hate to see Flash die you have to admit Adobe’s support of it is nothing short of terrible. Seriously, you have to use Linux in order to run it in a 64 bit browser. That is so freaking stupid.