Image Processing Reference
The availability and the quality of the user experiences are not dictated by the tech-
nical ability to deliver them, nor are they defined by the resources available. The control-
ling influence comes from marketing strategies that attempt to impact the market share of
the underlying platforms. The codec and player manufacturers often use their products as
weapons with which to beat one another. Real Networks offers its products on all the
major OS platforms. Even though they don't manufacture an operating system, they still
make choices about how well to support a particular platform.
Beware of lock-in with the coding platform and the client player tool. If they
are both implemented correctly, you should be best served by getting each one
from a different manufacturer.
The MPEG standards are deployed far more widely. They are readily available and
are played back even by most of the proprietary systems that would compete with them.
MPEG-1 was successful in its time and MPEG-2 has been resoundingly successful since
then. H.264 is a worthy successor to MPEG-2 where it seeks to improve on the earlier
state of the art. H.264 (MPEG-4 part 10) will be successful if the licensing terms for its
use are made attractive enough. Early license arrangements for H.264 included per-copy
fees and per-user charges, which the broadcasters found unattractive. The licensing
process is still evolving slowly and the industry is optimistically anticipating terms that
are similar to those under which MPEG-2 thrived. If program makers and broadcasters
feel that patent holders are exploiting them unduly, they will not switch to the new
More information about the H.264 licensing terms is available at the MPEG-LA and
Via Licensing Web sites.
Why Standards Define Only a Decoder
In setting a standard, the MPEG working groups are seeking to provide interoperability
between systems. Coders may be made by one company and decoders by another. If they
both operate to an agreed standard then everything will plug together and work.
Therefore the standardization process typically defines the syntax of the bit stream
to be decoded by the player. The specification does not usually mandate how that stream
should be encoded. As coders become more sophisticated and powerful, they are able to
squeeze more efficiency out of that syntax before they reach a point where no further
improvement is possible.
Via Licensing: http://www.vialicensing.com/