My take on the H.264 vs Theora debate

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I know no one in particular really cares to hear what I think about the H.264 vs Ogg Theora debate, so I decided to post it so it can be seen instead.

The real problem I see with H.264 is licensing. Duh. H.264 is implemented using certain patents that I don’t care to research and link to. If you care to see the details, read this article on wikipedia. Suffice it to say that open source software using the H.264 codec might have to stop using the codec after December 31, 2015 because the patent owner might start charging for it. It’s that old “let’s give them their crack for free at first, but after they’re addicted, we’ll make them pay gobs of money” philosophy. It’s not the right way to make customers.

As I recall, MP3 had licensing issues and everything seems to have turned out okay. At one point, I converted to ogg vorbis, but it was short lived. I got an iPod and it couldn’t do vorbis. I can’t leave home without my iPod.

Open source junkies (not unlike myself) say that we should only use open source codecs and point to Ogg Theora as an alternative.

The problem I see with Ogg Theora is that it really just isn’t as good of a codec as H.264.

Another problem I see is the fact that if you code it, they won’t necessarily come. People follow the herd mentality way too much. We often overlook what is best in the long run to see what everyone else is doing.

Here’s my solution. I think we should get together and make Ogg Theora 2.0. Let’s make Ogg Theora actually worth something, not that it isn’t already. I would use it. I don’t know how to get the rest of the world to use it, though. We would likely have to get google’s buy in to use it on youtube. We would need a couple other big players to use it as well, so it would become a De facto standard (as H.264 is becoming and mp3 did before it).

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