Brightcove Embraces HTML5, Passes On Theora Support

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Brightcove recently announced that they’re on the HTML 5 bandwagon (yah team!) and that they’re now offering  HTML5 compatibility for their clients. They call HTML5 implementation cost-prohibitive which makes me wonder just how much work it would be to implement it. I think I smell an article idea.

If anything is cost prohibitive it’s the intricacies of Flash and the fact that you have to purchase programs and licenses to make stuff (plus have someone capable of doing it). HTML5 on the other hand is readily and openly available (we even have some HTML 5  how-to‘s here at ReelSEO). But still a very long way away. Brightcove’s solution is to default to Flash but allow for HTML5 when supported or necessary (as in Apple iPhone/Pad).

In my opinion, Brightcove, like most of the others that are announcing support for HTML5, is not acting as a friend to the Open Source movement by going with H.264 encoding and not adding support for Theora.

They chose H.264, I’m betting, because of the limitations of the Theora codec and lack of tools, however, they should still be able to offer the option right?  I mean, they’re all tech savvy types over there and I’m certain they could have managed with the available tools to incorporate it into their service. But whatever for right? They get paid to host and distribute videos, so why bother when they probably already have H.264 in place. Though, if they want to hit the widest range of browsers one would expect them to support all of them.

Really it doesn’t affect me one way or another. I won’t jump ship on my browser of choice just so I can watch HTML 5 videos. Flash works just fine for me thanks even if it does hog resources from time to time. I just would like to see HTML be a truly open standard and H.264 has the potential to not be at a later date even though at present we’ve got another 5-years of license free usage.

For those that doubt me here’s the Wiki link.

In countries where patents on software algorithms are upheld, vendors and commercial users of products which make use of H.264/AVC are expected to pay patent licensing royalties for the patented technology that their products use.

On February 2, 2010 MPEG LA announced that H.264-encoded Internet Video that is free to end users would continue to be exempt from royalty fees until at least December 31, 2015. However, other fees remain in place. The license terms are updated in 5-year blocks.

That bolded statement means, if you make people pay for your H.264-encoded video content online, you should be paying a licensing fee. That could be a potential rift in the online video community.

MPEG LA patents will not expire on H.264 until at least 2028. A long way away from 2015, though there could be an endless line of extensions…could be.

The iPad is the driving force behind this sudden HTML 5 implementation according to the Brightcove Site:

The Brightcove Online Video Platform: Ready for HTML5 and the iPad

The Brightcove Experience for HTML5 solution eliminates these challenges by delivering a high quality, interactive and fully monetizable video experience to viewers on HTML5-capable devices.

Ready for Apple iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch

Reduce the cost and complexity of delivering and monetizing video on current and future generations of Apple devices that support the HTML5 standard. Deliver the best possible video experience to iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users.

Hey at $500 a month it should do all that and more right? Well it does. However, there is a caveat as only  “An early version of the automatic device detection and HTML5 player template are available in the Brightcove Developer Center. Additional capabilities will be provided in future versions released throughout 2010.” So it’s not really a full implementation yet, really that’s OK since HTML5 isn’t even a set standard yet, and won’t be for years I bet. But if the iPad is the driving force behind this all then they’re going to be a little late as it’s set for launch on 3 April and they’ve only got early versions ready.

The HTML 5 templates at Brightcove include:

  • Automatic Device Detection
  • Native HTML5 Player Templates – multi-title playlists, tracking, sharing, ads and more
  • H.264 transcoding – with multiple resolutions and bit rates

See, that’s all pretty snazzy stuff (to steal Mark’s word of the week). Of course, you have to pay to play and it’s only available at no charge to customers with subscriptions to Brightcove Professional, Enterprise, and Express $499 editions.

Seriously, I can’t help but hope for the iPad to fall completely flat on its tablet-y face, but that’s just me. I’m not anti-Apple (I love my iPhone!) I’m just anti-sensationalist and corporate hype.


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