YouTubes secret move

YouTube is a great service that allows people to both upload and watch videos. The thing which makes YouTube stand out from all other similar services, is the substantial implementation of so called social tools, like commenting and rating functions. However, even though YouTube is an immensely popular service, it has one problem: Video quality. The videos seen on YouTube are often in bad shape even before they are transcoded into the Flash video format (flv). To encode a video into the flv format, one most commonly would use the On2Vp6 codec, so does YouTube. Even though this codec is substantially better that the Sorenson Sparc which it replaces, Vp6 do produce grainy and bad picture quality at low bitrates.

Now something is stirring within YouTube as a response to this quality issue. If you've been following along into the dealings of Apple Inc. lately you'd notice that they have released a score of products closely integrated with YouTube. Both AppleTv and the oh so fantastic iPhone both hold YouTube functionality. But.. none of them have the ability to play back the flash format. Lately, the newly risen iLife 08 (iMovie) also include the choice of publishing your movie directly to YouTube. No doubt this functionality is a result of Apple and Google being in cahoots(Google is the owner of YouTube), but the interesting part here is that all Apple products which can upload to and download from YouTube utilizes the H.264 codec from the MPEG group.

Since the H.264 codec is far superior to the On2Vp codec and the H.264 is open to everybody, there are now some speculation YouTube is slowly converting it's material to be encoded into H264 instead of Flash. This would mean a significant gain in quality for YouTube material, and could be a necessity if YouTube is to target home entertainment systems with large monitors.

I think this would be a smart move by YouTube, because let's face it, Flash video isn't exactly impressive in it's quality versus size ratio. But, as YouTube and services like are the driving force behind getting people to upgrade their Flash plugins, this may entail that Flash designers and developers will have to dig into QuickTime development, as QuickTime is the only real alternative for playing H.264 video online today. Well..let's get to it then..

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