The YouTube Video Revolution

It was announced the other day that YouTube would begin serving H.264 video format on all their YouTube videos. This is an announcement that was made in conjunction with Apple regarding video formats for their Apple TV which uses Apple’s Quicktime format.

If you’re not familiar with H.264, it is a high definition video encoding protocol which allows for resolution scaling. It is the format used in Quicktime and video purchased on iTunes that allow HD crisp display on tiny iPod video screens and that allows for unpixelated resolution scaling on normal televisions.

It is the revolution of video but it’s not really new. It has become more known with the advent of iPod videos.

The plan is that all new videos will be encoded as H.264 starting sometime in the middle of June. There will be a significant quantity of YouTube content which will be available immediately for AppleTV users and new content will become available as YouTube users upload new content and as YouTube processes through their archives converting older content to the H.264 codec.

The big losers here are Microsoft and Adobe. Currently, all YouTube videos are played in a Flash video player (FLV). The move to a standardized codec means that proprietary solutions lose out. Adobe’s Flash? Gone. Microsoft’s Windows Media Player? Need to download a codec. Who wants to work for their videos?

H.264 can be played in most industry standard players. Quicktime, of course is the big one, making the deal a winner for Apple. AppleTV users are immediately benefited. iPhone users will benefit. Other players – VLC, MPlayer, and others.

From a business perspective, this deal continues to enhance the Google-Apple position that places the duo in stiff competition with Microsoft. The pair creates a highly distributed media network – Google with software and deliverables via the internet, and Apple with hardware multiplicity – iPod, Intel Macs, Apple TV, etc.

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to promote their proprietary infrastructure cemented by Windows Media Center/Vista, the XBOX 360 and the Zune with restrictive access to non-Microsoft media distribution (no H.264/Mpeg-4 support built into Windows Media Player) . Incidentally, why does the Zune only integrate with a single OS media player while the iPod integrates with a cross-OS iTunes? Fascinating.

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Aaron Brazell

Aaron Brazell is a Baltimore, MD-based WordPress developer, A Sr. Web Engineer at 10up, a co-founder at WP Engine, WordPress core contributor and author. He wrote the book WordPress Bible and has been publishing on the web since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter, on his personal blog and view his photography at The Aperture Filter.

4 thoughts on “The YouTube Video Revolution

  1. Are there any other plugins which support H.264 embedded into Firefox. I’ve found QuickTime buggy at best and almost always crashes Firefox when I try to play a video. Flash Video players on the other hand Just Work.

  2. “Incidentally, why does the Zune only integrate with a single OS media player while the iPod integrates with a cross-OS iTunes? Fascinating.”

    Perhaps because Apple would benefit more by drawin’ windows users, than Microsoft would tryin’ to draw Mac users…

    If you have an Mac, chances are you aren’t going to buy a zune and want to run there software…. they lost, they know it. Cheaper to target the market they already have than try to create a new one out of thin air

  3. Nice post, but you are wrong!
    Youtube will keep is flash video player.

    H264 videos will be available but will not definitely not replace FLV videos.

    Flash video rules!
    And the trend is not going to stop ;)

    Mr Pooxi

  4. Quicktime is probably not the best example of H.264 since it doesn’t support the full spec…

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