H.264 is the go-to delivery codec for video.
The delivery of video on the Internet is undergoing a gradual transformation as old standards are slowly replaced with modern technologies.
Video may be the perfect example of a concept that a lot of people in technology do not always seem to understand: innovation and adoption of new technologies can often be a slow process. The world rarely changes overnight. Call it progressive enhancement or iterative development, but it takes years to build the foundations for next era of innovation.
Part of building the new frontier is clearing out the vestiges of the old. In the case of video, the progression is very clear.
A new report from Encoding.com shows a good snapshot of the adoption of new technologies and the sunset of old for the video industry in early 2016.
Flash: Two Years From Total Death
2015 was the beginning of the total death spiral for Flash, the longtime default standard for rich media delivery on the Web.
Flash has gradually been declining for years, ever since the late Steve Jobs gave it a death sentence by banishing it from the iPhone and besmirching its reputation among developers in 2010. But in 2015, a series of events finally led Adobe to seriously address the issues with Flash and eventually focus on its successor, HTML5 video delivery.
First, spyware firm The Hacking Team was, ironically, hacked. It turned out that The Hacking Team’s primary avenue of exploiting targets was through Flash. The CTO of Facebook then pronounced Flash a major liability and called for Adobe to sunset the plugin. The point was driven home when Flash-based malware infiltrated Yahoo’s ad network. Google and Mozilla both limited Flash through the Chrome and Firefox browsers The Web’s major players—technology companies and advertisers—then banded together to support HTML5 over Flash as companies like Amazon banned Flash ads from its network entirely.
Facebook, the one of the two most influential standard bearers of the Web, finally ditched Flash for HTML5 for video in its News Feed.
Adobe eventually got the point and rebranded its Flash Pro media creation tool to Animate CC with a focus on HTML5 (while still supporting some Flash functions, especially for games).
What was the result of all of the body blows for Flash? A big dip in usage and marginalization in the video space.
According to Encoding.com’s report, Flash fell from delivery of over a fifth of Web video (21%) all the way to 6%.
“We expect to see the Flash video codec disappear completely from our report with 24 months,” Encoding.com stated.
HTML5-supported codecs further cemented their place as the new standards in video delivery. H.264 rose to 72% of all video delivery while WebM was in second place at 12%.
1080p Is Still The Dominant Resolution
4K screen resolution is all the rage if you pay attention to gadget announcements coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show or the likes of Apple and Google. But it is really the original HD format—1080p—that makes up the greatest slice of screen resolutions, according to Encoding.com.
A good 48% of screen resolutions are now optimized at 1080p, according to the report. On the back end of the spectrum, 480p resolution has been marginalized with 6%. The sweet spot for mobile devices is 720p with 38%.
As for 4K, Encoding.com notes that it grew 50% from 2014 to 2015, but still only registers at 8% of the market for screens of various sizes.
Which Cloud Does Video Come From?
Video delivery often originates from some type of cloud from geographically dispersed servers that cache and deliver content to speed up performance and quality of playback.
According to Encoding.com, Amazon is the dominant leader in video storage and delivery. Amazon S3 processed 63% of all the video trafficking that Encoding.com tracks, by far the greatest slice of market.
Cambridge-based content delivery network Akamai was the favorite for big media video delivery and had nearly a fifth of cloud video storage at 19% with its NetStorage product.
Microsoft’s Azure claimed 9% of the market while OpenStack placed fourth with 6%. Google does not place well in third-party media processing (this likely does not count YouTube which originates from Google’s own servers and CDN) with 1% of the market. As Google has recently made a small partnership with Akamai, this is not likely to change.