So, HTML5 editor Ian Hickson has written the following,
The current situation is as follows:
Apple refuses to implement Ogg Theora in Quicktime by default (as used by Safari), citing lack of hardware support and an uncertain patent landscape.
Google has implemented H.264 and Ogg Theora in Chrome, but cannot provide the H.264 codec license to third-party distributors of Chromium, and have indicated a belief that Ogg Theora’s quality-per-bit is not yet suitable for the volume handled by YouTube.
Opera refuses to implement H.264, citing the obscene cost of the relevant patent licenses.
Mozilla refuses to implement H.264, as they would not be able to obtain a license that covers their downstream distributors.
Microsoft has not commented on their intent to support <video> at all.
HTML5, for those at the back, is intended to be the thing that makes the internet not suck. The intention was to create a <video/> tag, that people could put into their web sites, which would display a video regardless of the browser used, regardless of the device used, regardless of anything. As it stands at the moment, most video content online is served up with Flash. There are also attempts at making a <canvass/> tag, which would allow people to do all of those arty things people also use Flash for. And thanks to the belligerence of the big vendors, we’re now one step further away from achieving that.
So why are they doing this? It’s pretty simple, really: Apple and Microsoft won’t support a codec that makes the web bearable for non-Apple and non-Windows users. Microsoft invented Silverlight specifically for that purpose. They want their browsers to look better than anybody else’s. Meanwhile the free browser makers dare not support anything that means they might have to pay royalties to somebody down the line. What can we learn from all of this? Business is more important than people, durr.