MPEG LA delivers the widespread news that H.264 will be royalty free permanently.
This is merely a trick to promote it's adoption in HTML 5 and popularity in the mainstream. Nothing really changes with this statement. H.264 did note become more free in any important aspect.
Firstly it does not change anything for 4 years. The previous license was valid until 2014. We all know that is a long time given current tech progress.
Secondly only free video broadcasting is included. Should you decide any alternative delivery methods, want to actually create videos or anything other it is not included.
This is only making it free to actually transfer the bits that you already have. A limitation that I would argue should even be allowed to exist. And even if you still feel safe - MPEG LAy can change this license at any time.
Apple really continues to show they want to lock in and control even their potential users. Constantly I see new reasons why Apple are working against open standards, freedom in development and freedom of choice. Some recent examples:
Stupid! browser lock-in. Not even the index page that does not showcase any HTML5 at all is accessible in any other browser than Safari. A warning, maybe even as a modal dialog, about browsers and their support could be convenient - but to first block all browsers and then talk about the open web standards that are the future of the web gets, in lack of better wordings, silly. Now where Apple in general with Safari and their website works against open standards and freedom one must admit that their open source decision on the webkit rendering engine is a step in the other direction. But to me everything points to this being a strategic decision to have the a good, stable and fast development of the rendering engine that is just more and more important in their other proprietary systems.
In 2010 you do not need to require registration as well as require usage of a proprietary download manager (iTunes) to be able to distribute video content. I was going to look at some video presentations of the conference but when realizing I had to download apple software where I need to be very careful to unclick 5 items to not get extra shortcuts, update managers or codecs I do not want - I turned around. Obviously this becomes even more bizarre as they showcase the <video> element in the HTML 5 demos.
Whereas I want open standards to as high degree as possible there is one thing that I feel is more important and that is CHOICE. The choice of the developer and the choice of the user. There is one thing you should do to control this choice and that is give information. What Apple decides to do with Flash is choosing themselves for both the user and the developer.
With the last version of the Android mobile operating system it is for instance possible to deploy Adobe Air applications on the android cellphones. This gives a lot of more ready applications, future potential developers and saves huge amount of time in converting flash applications to the native languages of the platforms. Apple argues that it is Adobes intention not to help developers with creating the best application for iPad/iPod/iPhone but to create the best cross-platform application. They have reason to dislike this as they have gotten such a good amount of dedicated iPhone developers - but I hope times change so that users and developers gets to do the choice. A good rating system lets users decide what apps are good - no matter of the code or framework it was written with. An open system lets others be part of the innovation - both with open and proprietary technologies. Let developers know the pros and cons of different development methods and work towards giving them as much choice as possible. Let users get the information about possible problems with some frameworks, size of downloads and what not - then let them chose and rate depending on their own experience. Users are the best user guides.