[whatwg] Codecs (was Re: Apple Proposal for Timed Media Elements)

Maciej Stachowiak mjs at apple.com
Thu Mar 22 22:47:52 PDT 2007

On Mar 22, 2007, at 3:33 AM, Christian F.K. Schaller wrote:

> A fallback without a mandated 'minimum' codec is next to worthless.  
> Standards
> with similar goals of interoperability, like DLNA, have ended up  
> choosing some
> mandated codecs (which are all 'older' codecs) and some optional  
> higher quality codecs.
> A standard which does not mandate any codecs in this area quickly  
> becomes a joke as
> you might easily end up having no two implementations actually be  
> interoperable.

Even interoperability at the API and markup level would be a huge  
step forward relative to the current state of web video. While also  
having a single universally implemented codec would also be good,  
that may not presently be feasible.

> Regarding the specific issue of mobile devices this is a highly  
> speculative argument.
> There is nothing stopping Theora chips from being produced and  
> since many
> 'hardware decoders' are actually programmable DSP's this is even  
> less of an
> real argument.

This is true of hardware audio decoders, but not hardware video  
decoders, which use dedicated circuit blocks. If Ogg suddenly became  
popular it would likely be a several year pipeline before there were  
any hardware decoders.

> Case in point: my Nokia N800 certainly does not play H264.  The  
> Flash videos that it
> can play are not played using hardware decoder support.  I don't  
> know many
> hardware players that actually play H264 - I'm guessing the iPod  
> video is one of the
> few, and that player does not support web browsing.

Most Flash video uses on the Sorenson Spark codec which is based on H. 
263. This is a much less processor-intensive codec than more modern  
options, but also gives worse compression. H.264 has been approved as  
one of the codecs for 3GPP so you can expect it to be supported by  
mobile devices in the future. Modern hardware decoders these days  
support H.263, MPEG-4 Part II, and H.264. These also happen to be the  
3GPP codecs.

>> We are very sympathetic to the desire for interoperability, and we
>> would really like there to be a codec that every browser can feel
>> comfortable implementing. But we are not sure such a codec exists at
>> this time (except for really primitive things, if you want to count
>> animated GIF or APNG as video codecs).
> I am sure that if everyone else starts supporting Theora and Vorbis  
> then Apple will quickly
> start feeling comfortable, it's the way the market works.

Apple doesn't currently support WMV, despite it being a popular  
format for video on the web, so I'm not sure that follows.


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