Blog Post

Mozilla Gives $100K for Open Video Development

Mozilla is looking to make video on the web as open and as easy to enjoy as images are now, by eliminating the need for software plug-ins or expensive licensing fees for restricted codecs. To further that mission, Mozilla selected the free and open Theora video compression format for Firefox 3.1, and yesterday granted the Wikimedia Foundation $100,000 to administer the development of Theora and related open video technologies.

On his blog, Mozilla director of evangelism Christopher Blizzard wrote about the importance of openness when it comes to video on the web:

Although videos are available on the web via sites like youtube [sic], they don’t share the same democratized characteristics that have made the web vibrant and distributed. And it shows. That centralization has created some interesting problems that have symptoms like censorship via abuse of the DMCA and an overly-concentrated audience on a few sites that have the resources and technology to host video. I believe that problems like the ones we see with youtube are a symptom of the larger problem of the lack of decentralization and competition in video technology – very different than where the rest of the web is today.

Blizzard goes on to explain what the selection of Theora and the grant money will enable:

This means we can do things with video and let it interact with other types of content (SVG, Canvas, HTML) in ways that haven’t been possible to date. We hope that by releasing video from the plugin prison and letting it play nice with others we’ll be able to open up a new wave of creativity around video.

VentureBeat has a nice summary of how Mozilla’s move fits into the browser landscape. Microsoft (s MSFT) has Internet Explorer and its video technology in Silverlight. Apple (s AAPL) has Safari and QuickTime. Google (s GOOG), which already runs the biggest video site on the web in YouTube, and has a relationship with Mozilla, could build Theora support into its Chrome browser.

8 Responses to “Mozilla Gives $100K for Open Video Development”

  1. Neno Brown

    I am pleased that there are organisations like MoZilla and the people at Ogg, championing Open source Codecs; gives the start-up a chance to save costs on delivering video.

    Sad that the mpegLA people put taxes on sight and sound, the economic downturn might hopefully align manufacturers and web video to this non-tax media medium.

    Though Voribis is better than mp3, Theora could do with some tech help to deal with HD content, but there is always Dirac coming through the ranks to challenge H264.

  2. Chris

    Why do you think this is going to work out? There have been many attempts at open source audio and video and they never got traction. Why do yo think it is going to work this time around. Any thoughts?

    • Chris Albrecht


      Personally, I would love to not have to deal with a patchwork of plug-ins from around the web to watch video (if it’s tough for me to keep up, I can only imagine the confusion for my mom).

      But will this dislodge Flash? No. Dominance tends to perpetuate itself. But Firefox has 20 percent market share now. That’s not ubiquity, but that’s sizable base of people which, in conjunction with the lower cost of using it, could encourage more people post with Theora.

      The $100K from Mozilla just shows that its committed to the format.