Mozila Reversing On H.264, Despite Patent Encumberment

Mozilla has reversed its stance on the H.264 codec, and the company’s most visible employee, Mitchell Baker, said that Mozilla is likely to support it in a broad way going forward. That’s directly counter to Mozilla’s previous take on H.264, which was that it is “encumbered by patents.” Now, Mozilla’s CTO Brendan Eich has declared once and for all that H.264 is essential to his company’s mobile strategy.

In a lengthy post that provides a good history of the video format wars and is worth reading, Eich writes:

“What I do know for certain is this: H.264 is absolutely required right now to compete on mobile. I do not believe that we can reject H.264 content in Firefox on Android or in B2G and survive the shift to mobile. Losing a battle is a bitter experience. I won’t sugar-coat this pill. But we must swallow it if we are to succeed in our mobile initiatives. Failure on mobile is too likely to consign Mozilla to decline and irrelevance.”

H.264 is basically MPEG-4, which is taking over streaming video. It’s interesting how Eich talks about mobile usage.

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