Friday, April 23, 2004

MPEG-4 Is Dead

 Just a quick link for today.  An article on video formats I found interesting.  I'll have something on XP and Test developers soon.  Watch this space. 

MPEG-4 Is Dead.  Or so says Jan Ozer of

Before MPEG-4 was introduced, three streaming technologies enjoyed widespread use: RealVideo, Microsoft's Windows Media Video, and Sorenson Video. MPEG-4 offers lower quality than any of them.

In addition to offering lower quality, MPEG-4 also sports the obligation to pay royalties, not only on encoders and decoders, but also on content. Given that decoders for the other three have always been free, it's doubtful that this costs more, looks worse "value proposition" will win many takers in the streaming media space.
Finally, it's hard to minimize the importance of the DVD Forum's provisional approval for Microsoft's VC-9 technology, essentially Windows Media Video 9, along with two other technologies, H.264 and MPEG-2, as mandatory on next-generation playback devices.

This announcement has three significant implications. First, it forces the committee-driven standards to compete primarily on performance, something neither has had to do yet. Second, it opens the door for proprietary standards to compete against committee standards in other markets, whether digital television or Dick Tracy-like video watches. The combined impact of these realities will either force committee members to work harder and faster or spell the death of committee-based video codec standards.