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December 02, 2013

Developers Hope VP8 Will Soon Be Mandatory for WebRTC Clients

Standards are important. They arguably enabled the Internet to be what it is today, and developers think they will be equally important for the development of the success of WebRTC.

The majority of developers questioned by a recent Dialogic survey noted that there should be a mandatory video codec for WebRTC. Roughly 62 percent thought there should be a mandatory video codec because guaranteed interoperability between WebRTC-based browsers and non-browser applications is critically important for any application that targets a broad audience.

While this is not earth-shattering news, the survey did reveal that H.264 is not as universally loved as some might have thought.

When asked which video codec should be mandatory, the developers surveyed by Dialogic overwhelmingly favored the new VP8 codec as the one that should be chosen, with 74 percent throwing their weight behind it. The popular H.264 codec only was chosen by 21 percent of developers.

“It looks like most do not like the implications of a codec that is not intended to be royalty free,” concluded Dialogic’s Chad Hart in a blog post about the survey results.

But ideally, developers want both to be standard. Most said they preferred to see both VP8 and H.264 mandatory, according to Hart.

“This approach allows smaller application developers to choose either VP8 or H.264 but guarantee either will work with browsers that implement WebRTC (eventually all of them),” he noted.

Currently the G.711 voice codec and H.264 are most used among WebRTC developers surveyed by Dialogic. But VP8 scored high, which Hart said was an indication that the new codec is gaining ground.

Even though developers would like mandatory codecs for interoperability, most are pragmatic enough to know that transcoding still will be necessary to make WebRTC work.

“Transcoding helps to solve inevitable codec mismatches that occur in real networks that are evolving faster or differently than the consensus-oriented standards bodies,” wrote Hart in his blog post. “Our survey results show most respondents were fairly pragmatic, falling somewhere in the middle - a little more than half recognized transcoding is needed, but it should be limited.”

The preference for VP8 clearly shows that developers are looking beyond traditional video conferencing applications when it comes to WebRTC, since H.264 is the norm in the video conferencing environment.

“This is a great thing since existing conferencing services applications are already under threat by newer, more modern options,” concluded Hart. “WebRTC will only accelerate this trend.”

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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