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Ask the Expert: What does Apple’s endorsement of HEVC mean to the Media & Entertainment Industry?

When Apple announced support for HEVC compression technology for iOS 11 at the company’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) early this month, it made a big splash in media & entertainment circles. (Helpful media summaries of the announcement can be found here and here.) All the hubbub is over the fact that OTT players now have the ability to stream their content to potentially millions of consumers with Internet-connected devices using only about half the bandwidth it currently requires. In the following blog, David Heppe, VP of Product Management, Imagine Communications, provides additional insight on why the announcement is important, how it could impact your business, and what Imagine Communications is doing to help you integrate HEVC into workflows targeting iOS devices.

Why is this such a big deal?

As everyone knows, Apple is a major manufacturer of mobile and other devices that are used by millions of consumers to stream video content. By supporting HEVC, Apple is enabling media companies that offer streaming content to reach those devices using only about half the bandwidth it currently takes using the currently supported H.264 codec – without sacrificing quality. Bandwidth equals big bucks and media companies that adopt HEVC stand to realize significant cost efficiencies.

How does this enhance the positioning of HEVC in the media industry?

With the considerable weight of Apple behind it, HEVC is now considered the heavy favorite to be the default advanced compression scheme for streaming media. Media companies welcome the opportunity to reduce the number of compression schemes in their workflows and Apple’s decision to support HEVC enables some media companies to concentrate compression operations on that codec.

Does this mean media companies should stop supporting VP9 and other alternative high-efficiency compression schemes?

That might be a little premature, but media companies should certainly reevaluate their compression strategies and consider accelerating support for HEVC in their streaming workflows.

What is Imagine Communications doing to enable media companies to take advantage of Apple’s recent announcement of support for HEVC?

Imagine Communications supports HEVC compression for Apple devices through its Selenio One and SelenioFlex File compression platforms. Selenio One is our next-generation platform for live/linear encoding and transcoding. It offers extremely high density for service providers – up to 180 channels of adaptive bitrate (ABR) video in a 4.3-RU server. SelenioFlex File is our VOD workflow transcoding platform, offering scalability, parallel processing and advanced workflow management to simplify operations. Both platforms are built on our Zenium microservices architecture, which promotes continuous innovation by segmenting applications and services into discrete components that can be updated or replaced as needed to enable the timely and seamless integration of new functionality, such as HEVC.