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YouTube Revamp Imminent? 297

An anonymous reader writes "YouTube's latest blog post indicated that some changes are on the way. Google has opened up a call to submit and vote on ideas. HTML 5 open video with Free formats has dominated the vote, maintaining over twice as many votes as the next-highest item almost since the vote opened up. You may vote here (Google login required). Perhaps we don't even need to since their blog post comes suspiciously soon after their revised merger with On2. Could these improvements be a completely overhauled YouTube 2.0?"
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YouTube Revamp Imminent?

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  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:49PM (#30760178)

    There seems to be a rather loud outcry for HTML5 in the idea list. Many of the top ten ideas use that phrase and nothing else of substance.

    There's only one problem. It ain't finished yet. So we've got the same problems 801.11n had a few years ago. It's hard to implement a moving spec.

    This is like the open source proponents who mentioned Ogg Vorbis a few years ago as a solution to DRM, and it's clear now that DRM-free watermarked MP3 is the winner in the marketplace today. Even worse, it's the same people behind it... Ogg's video spec 's used to be called out by name for being used in HTML5 [] and that's still under debate. Open Source fans including Mozilla support it, while owners of other video codecs of course think they shouldn't be locked out.

    So... really, HTML5 doesn't solve Google's problems with YouTube. Using HTML5 without calling for a codec is like an incomplete function call. You need to say which codec you want YouTube to use, or we could just see HTML5 + Flash on YouTube while other sites use other codecs....and not make much of a change.

    Standards are good... but we're still in a format war over HMTL5 that makes it nearly impossible to implement it right now.

  • Google talk (Score:4, Interesting)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @10:59PM (#30760228)

    Google seems to have a policy of talking about new ways to do things, and not making changes suddenly. Afterall, YouTube is the dominant video sharing site right now, and they don't want to let an open source format make them risk their status. So, it looks like HTML5 is going to get a good kick from Google telling them "Hey, we'll use whatever you tell us... but you've got to finish the spec first!" We'll see what this does to that.

  • Exactly one concern (Score:1, Interesting)

    by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:00PM (#30760234) Homepage
    Whatever they do, make sure everything is back compatible with pre-existing stuff. In particular, they need to make sure that whatever they do 1) doesn't break already existing embedded videos and 2) doesn't result in changes to what links are valid for existing videos. 2 is harder than it might seem since the video URLs they use are complicated with multiple forms able to go to the same video. Breaking either 1 or 2 would damage a lot of the internet and also just annoy a lot of people.
  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:09PM (#30760276)

    This is like the open source proponents who mentioned Ogg Vorbis a few years ago as a solution to DRM, and it's clear now that DRM-free watermarked MP3 is the winner in the marketplace today.

    A lot of the reason why people wanted OGG so badly is because OGG easily worked on Linux. In the days before Ubuntu, Fluendo and easy codec installation, finding, installing and using an MP3 codec was generally difficult and legally questionable. Now that it is really easy to install an MP3 codec in most Linux distros, people have toned down on the OGG evangelism for music.

    Ideally, HTML5 standards would use an open, patent-free standard for use with video. The point of standards is to allow different systems to communicate effectively, the fact that it is open is a requirement of any standard meant for benefiting users. Right now, Theora is about the only major codec that seems to fit the bill.

  • Google I love you. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by starbugs ( 1670420 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:21PM (#30760378)

    YouTube usable without flash.
    My only reason for using a proprietary OS.

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:24PM (#30760400)

    Here's Ogg's problem: They want to control their own spec. Get mentioned in HTML5 and they're frozen at whatever version number the spec uses for anything that uses HTML5. If they're not done yet, they're not ready for the W3C's adoption. Do they want the usage or control of their jobs?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2010 @11:29PM (#30760426)
    You need to say which codec you want YouTube to use, or we could just see HTML5 + Flash on YouTube

    There is synonymity between HTML5 and dropping Flash based on YouTube's HTML5 Demo [] which leverages the <video> tag for H.264 content. HTML5 sounds good (or win, I guess) to me.
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:06AM (#30760678)

    Is Ogg not done?

    A format that is in constant flux, is not stable, and not ready yet.

    Only a mature version of the spec should be used, one that the software industry already has positive implementation experience with.

    Of course HTML5 should mention a specific minimum base version of the Ogg spec.

    Renderers may support future versions of Ogg that validated by the W3C, but the renderer implementation must be backwards-compatible (able to read Ogg files made using an encoder that followed the old version).

    And changes must be forwards compatible, so that a file encoded in the new format can still be properly played by a browser implementing the minimal version of Ogg, at a similar quality level.

  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:13AM (#30760728)

    Now, technically, if they went with Theora, it could be supported everywhere -- every browser which supports HTML5 supports Theora out of the box, except Safari, and it's trivial to install a QuickTime plugin. But the question then becomes whether it's worth it for Google to do HTML5 at all, if they have to transcode everything to get the best browser coverage.

    There we are. You need to tell YouTube to use Theora. As somebody else posted, if YouTube picks a codec, that codec will have enough support to win the format war that's currently raging. If you want to endorse HTML5 go ahead, but please tell them about Theora because that's much more important to them.

  • by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:29AM (#30760812) Journal

    Ok, so how is it going to help Firefox and an open web by implementing that support?

    The same way it helps Firefox to implement GIF. Yes, PNG is better, but showing an image, even with questionable legality, is better than showing a "broken picture" icon -- and on the creator side, the more codecs which are supported, the more of a chance people have of just being able to dump their videos on a fileserver and expect people to be able to stream them.

    First off, how does it decide which version to download?

    Use the native libraries.

    What happens if someone downloads Firefox and gets sued because of the patented codecs?

    That's not going to happen -- worst case, Mozilla gets sued. I don't think you can sue a consumer for doing that.

    And again, use the native libraries. On Windows and OS X, you'll have those proprietary codecs out of the box. On Linux, users will either install them (Medibuntu) or they won't.

    If we set a good, patent free standard, their web browsers can have it built in without having to pay for a costly license thus increasing the use of the standard.

    Two problems:

    First, you aren't going to set a good, patent free standard. A good patent-free codec doesn't exist (sorry, but theora is technically inferior). And Apple has actually said they won't support it, Microsoft doesn't, and there isn't any hardware support.

    What's going to happen is, if you refuse to play ball, you will lose, and Firefox will lose market share because of it.

    Second, even if you somehow did, it'd still be nice to be able to use old images in their native format. If I've got a Gif for whatever reason, why should I have to convert it to PNG? At least that's lossless -- what if I have a jpeg, should I be forced to convert that to PNG? And what happens when the next shiny new codec comes along?

    Think about images, there are a lot of images that would be great as an SVG, but due to some browsers not supporting it (like IE) it has little use.


    Really, who cares? Google Wave doesn't support IE. If IE users really need modern technologies, they can install Chrome Frame.

    If the video codec specified that videos should be a in a free format, IE would almost have to use a free format if it supported HTML5, or miss out on video sites coded to the standard.

    Yes, but you are thinking about this backwards.

    Think of it from Google's perspective. You're apparently hoping that Google will spend thousands of dollars (millions?) on extra hardware to re-encode their videos (again!), as well as extra storage to get the same quality in Vorbis, and then drop their Flash support, thus forcing everyone to upgrade.

    Do you really think they'd take that gamble?

    I mean, if it works, every YouTube user is forced to upgrade to a modern browser. But that's not going to happen everywhere (corporate environments), and everywhere else, you're gambling that the users will want YouTube badly enough to switch browsers, versus just switching to, vimeo, dailymotion, revver, etc. Even if it works, it's still likely a significant hit in marketshare from users who either can't or won't make the switch.

    The only way I can see them doing that is if something even crazier happens -- Microsoft supports HTML5 out of the goodness of their heart. But having good support for web standards in IE is actually counter to Microsoft's interests -- the stronger the Web is as a platform, the weaker Windows is.

    Think of it in terms of actual corporations and dollars. It doesn't work.

    Now, suppose the situation were different. If you can actually come up with a patent-free format which is technically better than the proprietary ones, I can definitely see Google taking that gamble, because that actually saves them money in the long term. And

  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @12:59AM (#30760962)

    With Google's purchase of ON2, maybe the answer is for Google to release for free On2 VP6 or On2 VP7 or something and then make that the primary non-flash codec for Google.
    Google can then make VP6 or VP7 or whatever (whichever one is file-size and quality competitive with h.264) the main codec for YouTube.

  • by alvinrod ( 889928 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @01:40AM (#30761162)
    Ideally yes, but for everyone with a smart phone or other device that can't afford to waste CPU (And by extension battery life.) on decoding video when it has a perfectly good H.264 hardware decoder, Ogg is not a good solution.

    Linux desktop market share is maybe 1% at most. Linux actually has a good showing in the mobile phone space, but these devices all include H.264 hardware decoders so they don't run into the same issues as desktop Linux.

    The only place Theora makes any real amount of sense is on the desktop and Linux is largely an also ran in that space at the current time.
  • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Thursday January 14, 2010 @02:15AM (#30761376) Homepage

    Actually, people who know a thing or two about video codecs tend to dislike Ogg because it isn't a particularly good codec. Its original owners, On2, open-sourced the product, because it was a 10-year-old technology that couldn't compete with any modern product.

    Coincidentally, the internet's benevolent overlords, Google, are in talks to purchase On2, who own the IP to a few codecs that are considerably more modern than Theora (supposedly competitive with H.264 and VC-1). The idea of Google open-sourcing its newly-acquired property is certainly within the realm of possibility, especially if they can squeeze it into the HTML5 spec.

    If YouTube only offers HD content using the new codec, there will be significant impetus for users to switch to HTML5-compliant browsers, or install plugins that enable similar functionality.

  • by sowth ( 748135 ) * on Thursday January 14, 2010 @03:28AM (#30761648) Journal

    From what I've seen, and I did look into the matter a great deal, mp3 decoding (playing) hasn't really been an issue, either because Franhougher (I don't remember how to spell it) doesn't bother to sue anyone who makes software mp3 players or their claimed patent on it doesn't exist / isn't valid.

    The problem is with mp3 encoders. Sometime around the late 1990s the company started suing open source developers until they stopped making any encoders. The only project which survived was GNU Lame, but apparently only because they had the legal backing and they declared their program for "educational and research" purposes.

    This is why Ogg Vorbis gained traction. Open source developers didn't have to worry about being sued when using this format. Also note mpeg 4 video may have similar problems. The group which handles licensing (I believe called MPEG-LA) has repeatedly said they want to charge per file created, not just per encoder.

    It could get really expensive if they decide to do this. This is also why Ogg Theora is important. Not necessarily to get everyone to use it, but for an alternative in case you can't afford or don't want to pay license fees. Some video game companies [] use ogg vorbis because there is some high flat fee for the license of games. I think it was $30,000(US)/game when I checked. Not a small amount at any rate.

    If you need to encode for your mp3 devices, from what I understand (IANAL) the patent for mpeg layer 2 has run out, so you don't have to worry about royalties. The project toolame [] encodes layer 2. I know it is on debian [] and the source should be easy to find. It is older codec, so doesn't compress as well.

    But then from my observations in sound and compression, mp3s are inferior to ogg vorbis. mp3 is just used because every device supports it and everyone is used to it. Some company (same one?) came out with a "mp3 pro" format, but no one used it and no one cared. Probably for the same reason as vorbis, but also because it required licensing fees as well.

    So I am not really sure anyone will notice or care about any issues with layer 2 anyway. I notice a little, but only because I try to get my files really small (below 64kbps if possible)

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin