If we stopped trying to standardize audio and video file formats and instead standardized APIs for dynamic audio and video, we’d break through the bottleneck.
This wouldn’t require Apple and Microsoft to give up their patent wars, which they will never do. This would allow Wikipedia to use free formats like Theora, which it does for reasons that also won’t change.
It never works to try to compete on freeness alone; that’s why Ogg hasn’t taken off yet. To get adoption of a new data format you have to compete on features. That’s exactly what dynamic media APIs would do. It would not be possible to create an AJAX remixing tool with AAC or WMA, but it would with dynamic media APIs. It would be possible to leave voice comments. It would be possible to give guitar lessons. Users and sites would adopt the new technology because they wanted the new features.
This came to mind because of these related posts out there:
See also my Oct 4 2008 post pure AJAX audio formats now a reality