December 16, 2019 by Romain Bouqueau

Here is what the 2020 horizon hides

There is a new decade behind us and another one in front of us. When I look back at the last ten years, I cannot spot any technological disruptive innovation in our industry. I've worked close to R&D during these ten years and every of the disruptive ideas came and went away like the tide (and will certainly come back in 20 years). To my eyes our industry has shifted from R&D to production and our focus as technology experts has focused as well:

Of course a lot of things changed for the best.

If we were on the production side we would praise the new craze for new formats like Dolby Vision for fidelity on the complete workflow, HDR, the improvement of displays (calibration, angles, brightness, color wideness, etc.), the scaling of pixel numbers (HD was still hard in 2010 while 8K seems achievable in 2020), the emergence of new formats (mobile, etc).

If we were on the content distribution business we would appreciate the take-off of xVoD offers and the ease to address new users (who owns their own reception device). The new war on offers with the arrival of Disney+ is promising.

But for us tool makers this decade has brought a lot of production innovations: the "cloud" ("someone else's computer" as RMS stated), Agile methodologies (including TDD), devOps, and fullstack operators that allow a better QoE (quality of experience) by bringing more horizontality in the software development processus. This is where leading companies like Netflix shine.

The last decade has also failed to fix a lot of broken designs. This has a significant cost toward agility that make most actors prone to disruption by some other actors. Net-neutrality is only a principle. HLS and TCP-based protocols still dominates the OTT space while being an heresy (hopefully QUIC shows promising results). Hybrid delivery and scalable codecs are praised but still waiting for the next wave (resp. ATSC3 and MPEG-5 part 2). MPEG is still dominant despite it inability to handle patent issues at the core level. Javascript still dominates. Accessibility is still an afterthought despite efforts at all levels. Some people still praise Flash:

We still throw money over the top for no rational reason:

There is a lot of indolence from our industry. The ground for more piracy is just here: useless innovation pushed with no market need, fragmentation of the content market. The ground for disruption from content creators is also here with only Netflix in my opinion trying to bridge the gap.

The good news for us is that, by philosophy, the GPAC community does not discriminate the use of our tools. Free software allows to have an unexpecting large and diverse set of users. Our community grows because the use of video grows.

Not only can we innovate faster than the industry but as open-source contributors we have a proven track record of consistently delivering software at scale. In a time of high competition finding the right partners is essential.

Please find here our 2019 predictions.

We wish you the best happy end of year and are eager to start the new decade with you all :-)

Photography courtesy Johannes Plenio

Self-contained codecs considered harmful

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