In previous articles we talked about the hardware requirements of QuickTime 7 for H.264 HD. H.264's implications for high definition content are very exciting, but perhaps not quite as exciting as its implications for web delivery of lower resolution content.
Behold the power of H.264 in QuickTime 7:
This image is a screen capture of a QuickTime 7 stream of CNBC's report on Tiger. What's interesting is the fact that it's a 640x480 stream with a high frame rate, with a bit rate of only 676 Kbps.
Contrast this to what QuickTime 6 users get:
Now, the bitrate of this clip is approximately 30% lower than the H.264 clip, but still, even at the same bitrate it would be extremely difficult for any QuickTime 6 codec to achieve anywhere near to close the quality of the H.264 clip with the same resolution and frame rate.
It's fortunate for Apple that the iPod and iTunes are so popular, since every installation of iTunes includes QuickTime. I look forward to when QuickTime 7 for Windows is released. Once that happens, the iPod will mean a big boost for the adoption of H.264, which I hope translates into a quick transition to a time when video streams on the internet are actually enjoyable to watch.