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With HTML5 video different browsers support different format scanners. There isn't one video format that all browsers support. You could see in this chart Safari and Internet Explorer support the MP4 H.264 format while Firefox, Chrome, Opera support the OGG and WebM formats. In this chart based on the statcounter.com global stats you can see the most supported format is the Ogg Theora format, which I said earlier is not as high-quality format as the others, but it was the first format to be used in HTML5 video, so it's supported by older versions including Firefox versions between 3.5 and 4, which if we look back at the HTML5 browser chart Firefox is the most used HTML5 browser.
Firefox version 4, which supports WebM, was released just at the end of March, the same month these stats are taken. So WebM support number is probably much higher even know with the rate that Firefox users are upgrading. Then with the release of IE 9, which supports the H.264 format, we'll probably see that number go up as well and all three may even out within the year. So what does this mean for us is web developers? It means that if we want to support HTML5 video across browsers, we need to provide our videos in at least two formats.
I'll go into strategies for choosing which formats to support in the chapter on video encoding. So why can't the browsers just agree on one format? Well the browsers that support the Ogg and WebM formats support them because they are free and open source. They believe that the web is free and open and video on the web shouldn't rely on a format that is closed and has licensing fees like H.264. The browsers that support H.264 believe that the open-source formats may actually be vulnerable to hidden patents, which could become a problem for anyone using them if these patents ever come to light.
In addition to that, Apple has invested a lot of money in the H.264 format including building hardware into the iOS devices to help with encoding and decoding video, meaning that even if Apple decided to support an open format, it would take more than a simple iOS software update for that format to work on iOS devices. But at this point Apple hasn't given any reason to believe that they ever will support an open format. There are two ways I can see this format war ending. The first would be if the H.264 format was made free and open.
If that happened, Firefox, Opera and Chrome would have no excuse to not adopt it and since so much of the web's video is already in the H.264 format, everyone would just continue to use it. I don't know that there is a good chance of this though because I think MPEG LA, the group behind H.264, is making good amount of money on H.264 royalties and probably doesn't want to give that up. The other way the format war could end as if Apple decides to support the WebM format. If that happened, I think Microsoft would follow suit with Internet Explorer and we would have one format that worked across all browsers and devices.
As opposed to Apple, Microsoft has shown some support of WebM through an optional plug-in that users can download to support WebM in IE. Apple though, as I've said, has shown no interest in WebM. So unfortunately neither option seems likely and we may need to support multiple formats in HTML5 video for many years to come. Now HTML5 audio doesn't escape this battle and the sides are basically the same. Firefox and Opera support the open Ogg Vorbis format while IE 9 and Safari support the closed MP3 and AAC formats.
So wherever the video formats debate goes, we can expect audio to follow. With all that hopefully you have a better understanding of where we are with HTML5 video and audio and hopefully you're not too discouraged. It really is a great new way to work with video and audio on the web. I'm excited for the day when it's all we need. In the rest of this course I'm going to introduce you to using HTML5 video and audio and show you how to work around all these issues I have talked about and if you've done it all once, it's really not that bad. So let's get in some code!
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