Mountain View (CA) – The Mozilla Foundation, the group who gave us the Firefox browser, is working to open one of the only remaining proprietary niches of the web; they are going after online video standards. The group announced they will issue a $100,000 grant, compliments of the Wikimedia Foundation, in an attempt to develop an open-source Internet video standard – free to all.
Currently the standards for embedding videos on the web are controlled by companies which own them privately – like Apple’s QuickTime, Adobe’s Flash, Microsoft’s media player formats and Real Networks. These companies charge a licensing fee to the content creators and server software which utilizes their formats.
Web video is a huge, growing trend, however the proprietary nature of video formats causes stress and tension and may actually hinder its growth because of the financial constraints. For users to be able to view a Flash video, for example, a separate plug-in must be downloaded for their web browser. And unfortunately, the proprietary software is complex, and isn’t suitable for use on all devices.
In fact, many mobile phones and set-top boxes connected to televisions are not capable of displaying Flash. The iPhone is not capable of supporting Flash video because Apple feels the program doesn’t properly perform. And even though Adobe is currently creating a mobile-ready version of Flash, it hasn’t been released for all operating systems yet.
Mozilla is standing behind Theora, a video format published by the Xiph.org Foundation. Tests have shown that Theora video quality is not as great as that which is displayed by other players. Mozilla’s grant is designed to aid the company in improving the video format. If they are capable of creating a competing product, the last question which remains is will web publishers, including companies such as Apple and Microsoft, ever accept and adopt it?