Mitchell Baker Says H.264 is About User Experience
Mozilla has been resisting the H.264 video codec in Firefox for quite a while because it is "encumbered by patents." But recently Mozilla walked that stance back a bit saying they were thinking about allowing the codec. Then today, Mitchell Baker posted an explanation of why the company will probably begin using it after all.
At the heart of her argument is their commitment to "giving ... users a great experience." Baker said, "We want to build products that people love." That is beginning to trump any policy of openness. Mozilla Firefox is seeing its numbers decline to Google's Chrome and H.264 support is part of the equation. H.264 has become quite popular especially in the mobile sector because of its high compression with good video quality. Simply, it reduces data transfer.
So, Mozilla sounds like it is giving in. It can stand on the moral high-ground and continue to bleed users or give in and support H.264. Or as Baker put it, "It's time to focus on shipping products people can love now, and to work on developing a new tactic for bringing unencumbered technology to the world of audio and video codecs." She also adds, "We shouldn't beat ourselves up for somehow failing to live up to Mozilla's values."
For those dedicated to openness, Baker promises to keep her team working on open standards and even declare they will "rebuild the maze" if necessary. But for now, it looks like user choice wins out.
In related news, long time employee Christopher Blizzard has left Mozilla for an opportunity to help a new start-up in Palo Alto. Friday was his last day.