If the many patent holders around the next big video codec don't get too greedy we might see some really cool Internet video products in the next few years.
Google is perhaps the wild card here. YouTube is fun but as a source of premium movies and TV shows—pshaw, Setos says again. But the ex-Fox executive also notes Google is building its own Hollywood studio and broadcast infrastructure.
Hey, Google is a metro WiFi provider in Kansas and elsewhere, a maker of driverless cars and Google glasses…oh yeah, and a mobile operating system. Seems like there’s plenty of room for Google to tap HEVC for next-generation video markets.
The only question is, will the HEVC patent owners foul the party? H.264 was a success because it was great technology at an affordable price--a flat 25 cents per chip maximum, capped at about $12 million per vendor, I am told.
If HEVC royalties hit a similar level, look out Internet video! But it’s too early to tell.
The MPEG Licensing Authority issued a call for essential HEVC patents in June. There are said to be about 500 of them out there, including many from relatively new players to the MPEG world such as Qualcomm and Samsung.
Twenty-four companies responded to MPEG LA’s call so far. They are set to meet for a third time in February to hammer out terms.
These things don’t always go so well. The people behind MPEG 4 Part 2 had a great technology for a flexible codec that could be optimized for the needs of very different video objects in a scene.
“We tried to use it in our lab, and [the patent holders] said they wanted $400,000 for the encoder, we couldn’t even use it for demos without paying--and that was before we even did any commercial use,” said one source.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed that with HEVC everyone jumps in the pool and plays nice. If not, well we may have several more years to deal with bad Internet video and powerful (MPEG-4-based) cable TV companies.