It's Apple and Microsoft versus Google and Mozilla in a tag team match for the video codec in HTML5

It seems Apple and Microsoft are lining up to fight open source in HTML5 video. In the other corner are Google and Mozilla. Who wins will determine how you watch video on the web.

As I wrote about earlier, there has been a horse race going on about which video codecs will be supported by HTML5. With the stakes so high, the race is starting to get a bit rougher. Now it is turning into a tag team match, with Apple and Microsoft on one side and Google and Mozilla on the other.

This past weekend both Apple (of the open standards according to Steve Jobs) and Microsoft (never afraid to assert an alleged patent claim) have supposedly put down the hammer that Ogg Theora (supported by Mozilla) and other open source video codecs may violate patents.

The point in an unconfirmed email from Steve Jobs is that just because something is open, does not mean that it does not impinge on patent rights of others is of course a valid point. More ominous though was a reference to a "patent pool" being assembled to go after Theora and other open source codecs.  Could that be a reference to Google's anticipated May release of an open source VP8 codec? I don't know for sure.

In any event, it seems plain that Apple believes that the open source video codecs infringe on some patents and that this will prevent them from moving forward as widely adopted standards. This leaves the door open for the h.264 standard, which both them and Microsoft support to become "the standard" in HTML5.

Microsoft chimed in with a blog post stating that as far as HTML5, IE9 will support h.264 only. While they support Flash and Apple doesn't, it does seem the are lining up with Apple on this HTML5 video battle royal.

This sets up an interesting tag team match. On one side, the defenders of "open standards that we like" Apple and Microsoft. In the other corner, the open source champions Google and Mozilla. Hey maybe Adobe can be the guest referee?  The winner of this match will determine what technology will underlie the video you watch on the web or your TV in the future.

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