When Steve Jobs demoed the AppleTV’s new YouTube functionality at this week’s D: All Things Digital conference, host Walt Mossberg inevitably asked about picture quality, noting that YouTube content doesn’t always look that great on a PC let alone a big screen television. “The biggest thing that limits the quality is the source…”, replied Jobs. “You get what you get.” Or in the AppleTV’s case, you get what Jobs gives you.
Perhaps leveraging Apple’s ‘special’ relationship with Google (who acquired the video sharing site late last year, and whose CEO Eric Schmidt sits on Apple’s board), Steve Jobs has managed to get YouTube to re-encode their entire back catalogue using the higher quality — and AppleTV compatible — H.264 codec, rather than make do with Flash.
iLounge broke the news after talking to Apple Vice President of Worldwide Mac Hardware Marketing, David Moody.
At launch, “thousands of videos designed for Apple TV” will be available, with thousands more added weekly until the entire YouTube library becomes accessible to Apple TV users this fall. When asked what “designed for Apple TV” meant, Moody said that YouTube will soon be encoding videos in the H.264 streaming-efficient compression format preferred by Apple TV, and that all new videos submitted to YouTube as of the mid-June launch of the AppleTV update will be playable by the device. From then until fall, YouTube will be encoding its entire back-catalog in H.264 format, adding videos in chunks until everything is accessible to Apple TV users.
Meanwhile, MacFormat speculates that an additional reason for Apple’s insistence on YouTube supporting H.264 is to ensure future compatibility with the iPhone. So far the company has dodged questions regarding whether the device will be able to playback Flash video, but with YouTube now supporting H.264 (which the iPhone can playback), it becomes less of an issue. Now all Jobs has to do is persuade every other video sharing site on the web to comply too.