DivX, where did that momentum go?

Back in February DivX graced us with their web player plugin for Windows and Mac. Apparantly to little fanfare, I didn’t even notice at the time. I have always been a fan of DivX; the codec mind you, not the company. The quality is superior and encoding time shorter than any other option out there, not to mention a relatively sane DRM implementation. On the other hand, the company was born on the media wings of online tv and movie pirates, and it all started out as a Windows Media Video hack. Coming from a background where the involved individuals seem to prefer and trend toward transparency rather than tight-assed corporations, it always seemed rather odd to me the way DivX attempted to capitalize on their momentum. Notice that they have long since lost the support of online pirates who are now using the more transparent (open source) XviD codec extensively.

This post isn’t so much about DivX’s failure to gain real end-user traction in years past, it’s more an open question as to why they seem to be unable to meet market demands NOW. On2, who we first heard about when they open sourced their VP3 codec, whom the astute reader will know is the codec Ogg Theora is based upon. Somehow, these On2 fellows in the past couple of years have managed to get Macromedia and now Adobe eating out of their hands, which in turn has granted them 95% or better market penetration through the web browser (bundled with Flash 8). Now they can be seen launching products left and right aimed at corporate licensee’s such as the On2 Video Publisher. Dare I pose the question, DivX, you went through all the trouble of creating a browser plugin for playback, why didn’t you take it the extra 10 yards?