VP8 is a placeholder – nothing more.
With all this fighting going around between H.264 and VP8, we’re forgetting the bigger picture here. And that is the fact that VP8… or H.264… are just a footnote.
I remember back in my days, we talked about H.263. And then H263+. And then H.263++. And then about this brand new thing called H.264. And how it is great. But can’t be used anywhere because it just too darn expensive to run. At that time, H.263 was ubiquitous.
Today? Today, H.264 is great, but getting a bit old and boring. VP8 isn’t that different, though you might call it “newer”.
There are 3 new players in town – ones you should know about:
H.265 is the continuation of H.264 for all intents and purposes.
It is just as boring (besides for the technologists), and it just as expensive – it comes with the usual hefty sum you’ll need to pay (probably to MPEG-LA as well).
While its future in WebRTC depends on H.264 being selected as the mandatory codec, it seems that its future in the streaming industry, at least if you ask content creators, is bright.
Oh… and it has another name, just to confuse us all: HEVC – High Efficiency Video Coding. As if H.266 won’t be any more efficient.
I wonder if Cisco will be “open sourcing” this codec with all of its patents so happily as well.
VP9 is the continuation of VP8 for all intents and purposes.
Google is pushing it full steam ahead, and they are using whatever ammunition they have – placing this codec in YouTube and in their Chrome browser in its current state. They WANT it to be the web standard for video.
To make things interesting, Google has thrown SVC (Scalable Video Coding) into the mix here, by partnering again with Vidyo, to get their SVC magic into VP9.
Daala. Daala is an attempt by Mozilla to bring its own free, open source codec. Something that surpasses H.265 without patents. It is so new that the first real encoded stream was achieved in May 2013. To me this means there’s a long way to go here.
I find it hard to believe it will garner more of our attention in the next 3-4 years.
With codecs usually having a run of a decade, not sure where that leaves Daala.
We’re no fighting over VP8 and H.264 not for the sake of having them in WebRTC, but rather for the selection of the future codec – the one that will rule the internet, and maybe even paid video content. There are a lot of interested parties in this game – many with patents they plan on monetizing.
Getting out of the path of patented video codecs will benefit us all. It will spur more innovation and reduce barriers of entry for new and interesting services. It will also simplify licensing and legal issues related to patent royalty payments.
I wish the end result will not include an ‘H’ prefix in it.
All that said, a few people already told me they just couldn’t care less as long as we end up with a single codec – their use case just needs whatever codec there is.
I guess we’re making a bit too much of a fuss about it.