Will OGG become the standard for online videos?

YouTube, Metacafe or any other video sharing website are all powered by Adobe’s most popular technology, Flash. Everyday millions of videos are being served and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Adobe Flash. However, as it’s a proprietary technology, it comes with various restrictions like licenses, patents and fees too!

As per the trend, developers have always tried to keep the web running through open-source technologies (php, mysql, ruby on rails are some of the examples), however, there wasn’t any other technology that we could say would be able to replace Adobe Flash until Microsoft launched SilverLight. That’s a different thing that Microsoft itself uses Adobe Flash even after SilverLight was released!

Ogg Vorbis has been around for a while, however it literally lost the competition in the hands of MP3 format, although because of its open nature, developers have worked on it and are trying their best to make it a better format for music and videos. One of the drawbacks of Ogg theora format is that it doesn’t support h.264 video compression that helps in making video size smaller and apt for sharing videos on the web and thus it wasn’t considered as web standard for videos on the web.

Although, the good news is that Google, one of the biggest supporter for open technologies is planning to integrate Ogg in Chrome browser, so as to ensure that no plugins will be required to run the videos that use Ogg file format. This means, that web developers will be able to embed videos (powered by OGG) in the webpages just like they used to embed images and links.

Interestingly, upcoming Firefox 3.5, latest versions of Opera and Apple Safari are supporting Ogg theora and since YouTube is owned by Google, we may see the transition once this open format will be much refined as compared to today’s standard. With all these developments, it seems to me that soon we’ll see the videos on the web running on Ogg format rather than Flash. What are your thoughts about it?

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9 Responses to Will OGG become the standard for online videos?

  1. Kenneth says:

    Lots of errors here.

    1 – Vorbis is an audio only codec; Theora is a video only codec. They originated from totally different beginnings. Vorbis began as a grassroots effort to replace MP3 after the patent holder announced that they were going to start charging licensing fees; Theora was a video codec developed by On2 Technologies as a competitor to MPEG2 that, after it lost, granted the world a royalty-free license to do whatever they wanted with it.

    2 – H.264 is a codec unto itself, not something that helps to further compress video for the web and not something that can be implemented in Theora. It's possible but highly improbable that H.264 videos could be made to play in the Ogg container. H.264 is a newer generation of video codec that uses a patently different technique to get higher quality video at lower file sizes. Theora wasn't designed to even come close to competing with H.264, and it's highly unlikely that it will ever match H.264's quality.

    3 – Neither Safari nor Opera support Ogg, Vorbis, or Theora. Opera has elected to hold off supporting it right now for fear of legal threats from submarine patents, and Safari only plays Theora videos after going through the relatively user unfriendly installation of the XiphQT component.

    4 – Flash supports the H.264 video codec natively. Youtube has agreements with hardware manufacturers to encode video in H.264 format because there is at present no hardware acceleration for Theora (something necessary for mobile devices and set top boxes). The same H.264 videos that Youtube will possibly serve up some day for the video tag can be used in Flash player as a fallback for older browsers. It's far more likely that Mozilla will be forced to capitulate and license a H.264 decoder in their browser than it is for Youtube to decide to support Theora.

    Mozilla incorrectly implies that H.264 will be prohibitively expensive for the end user. The fact is that H.264 will in most cases incur a licensing cost for tool makers and web hosts, not an additional expense for the end user. H.264 is everywhere. OS X supports it out of the box. Windows 7 will support it out of the box. Flash supports it out of the box. It's the standard used in Bluray video. Although I am a fan of Open Source and Open Standards, I recognize that H.264 isn't going anywhere, no matter Mozilla's delusions of proselytizing against it.

    In the open video codec wars to come, one can appropriately put a small amount of money on Dirac, an open, patent-unencumbered and royalty free codec developed by the BBC. Eventually, it could offer even better quality than H.264. Unlike Theora, it has a lossless mode making it suitable for everything from web video to archiving video footage. Unfortunately, at present Dirac is still extremely processor intensive, and even worse than Theora at lower, web-suitable bitrates.

  2. Me, Us, We says:

    Was this a computer generated article? Most of it makes no sense.

    "One of the drawbacks of Ogg theora format is that it doesn’t support h.264 video compression" That's like saying one of the drawbacks of a Ford is that it isn't a Chevy. Of course it doesn't support h264. it's competing with h264.

  3. Mayank says:

    @kenneth & Me, Us, We – Thanks a lot for dropping by and taking your time to leave the comments. I'm glad that you guys have cleared up a lot of doubts and mistakes that I made and these inputs have not only helped me but will help other readers too! thanks a bunch :)

  4. Mayank says:

    @kenneth & Me, Us, We – Thanks a lot for dropping by and taking your time to leave the comments. I'm glad that you guys have cleared up a lot of doubts and mistakes that I made and these inputs have not only helped me but will help other readers too! thanks a bunch :)

    I can assure you that it's not a computer generated article, its just that my tech skills need to be brush up a lot! I'm trying hard to ensure that I can start contributing again and that too without silly mistakes like these.

  5. "With all these developments, it seems to me that soon we’ll see the videos on the web running on Ogg format rather than Flash."

    If it's for free, then for sure this will happen real soon. Don't you think so?

  6. “Interestingly, upcoming Firefox 3.5, latest versions of Opera and Apple Safari are supporting Ogg theora and since YouTube is owned by Google, we may see the transition once this open format will be much refined as compared to today’s standard.”

    Google is a widely used site and search engine. Its integration of the Ogg in the chrome browser may change the trend because it will enable web surfers to use and appreciate the Ogg format.

  7. skill games says:

    One of the drawbacks of Ogg theora format is that it doesn’t support h.264 video compression that helps in making video size smaller and apt for sharing videos on the web and thus it wasn’t considered as web standard for videos on the web.

    Are they making efforts to compensate for this drawback? I think they should develop something that would enable it to compress videos.

  8. william says:

    Ogg Vorbis has been around for a while, however it literally lost the competition in the hands of MP3 format, although because of its open nature, developers have worked on it and are trying their best to make it a better format for music and videos.

    I am not familiar with this one. Anyway, it is very interesting because of its open nature. It's a great tool to aid the developers in exploring their creativity.

  9. Chuck Linart says:

    I hope .ogv replaces .swf. Flash is a major pain in my buttocks!

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