HTML5 Video Codec Wars

One of the reasons many people dislike HTML5 video is because you have to encode the video in multiple codecs to work on multiple browsers. In fact, in an article I just read that was one of the reasons to hate HTML5. He said, if you have to encode it in flash to support IE why bother doing anything else.

Well I’m on an iPad and my answer to that is, if you don’t encode it in something other than flash, I won’t be able to view it. And whether you like it or not, the iPad and other mobile devices are becoming more important.


But that’s not what I want to talk about today. The reason people don’t like HTML5 video is because there are so many codecs. Which wouldn’t be so bad except that you have to encode your video in all of them, to support the majority of browsers. That means webM, ogg Theora, H.264 and flash. And then the Mozilla organization announced they would be supporting H.264.

Does this bother you? Many people see it as Mozilla caving in. After all H.264 still has a patent surrounding it and so Mozilla is no longer supporting their goal of an open web.

I applaud Mozilla for trying to keep that goal of an open web. But ultimately I think they need to change and go with the codec that most people are using, H.264. Because without a video codec that most people use Mozilla and their browser Firefox become less viable in the marketplace. And with fewer browser manufacturers, the remaining ones will feel less and less pressure to go along with consumer needs for the browsers.

In fact, I believe if Firefox had not added support for H.264 they would not succeed on the mobile browsers as a viable alternative.