If you have a camcorder, the license to create h.264 is present as part of the camcorder. This includes phones and everything else people submit to YouTube, for example.
It doesn't include video game footage or anything else that's edited because as I understand it, the video editing software needs to have its own licensed encoder.
H.264 videos and H.264 decoding hardware has been used everywhere for almost a decade now.
Make it two decades and we'll talk.
we're on the verge of switching to H.265 which is about twice as good as H.264.
Not so fast though. When I made a similar point, people mentioned that video providers will continue because they have the choice of decoding H.265 in battery-gulping software or H.264 in battery-sipping hardware.
App tell you if they are going to require network access when you download them
Google Play Store's permission screen doesn't tell you how much data an app can transfer in any given time.
True, but if you save all your files in H.264, you are guaranteed an archival data format that can be read by software that won't suddenly stop working.
If you are archiving a video that you produced, what's the big advantage of H.264 over VP8? VP8 is rate-distortion comparable to H.264 baseline, and VP8 is free today. An archival copy needs to be read by software, not necessarily read by specialized hardware in a battery-constrained device.
If you are archiving a video that someone else produced, most streaming video providers have a policy of implementing technical measures to prevent just that, backed by national anticircumvention legislation.
Bandwidth now is easily a couple of orders of magnitude higher than a decade ago (and moving towards gigabit)
Gigabit per second just means you blow through a month of last-mile data in 40 seconds.
Bandwidth is not that scarce.
It is when you're trying to send 2160p video to subscribers behind local monopoly ISPs that routinely practice metering, congestion by choice, or both.
Is a compression factor of 2 compared to a free codec worth the license trouble and the additional development?
Yes. This is why YouTube never implemented Theora, waiting until VP8 (which roughly compares to AVC baseline) before adding any free codecs.
What matters is that the existing standard doesn't empty the battery where a new codec wouldn't.
Why wouldn't the new codec be GPGPU-accelerated too?
Once a format is deemed "good enough" it can stick around for a long time.
True, if it is impractical to deploy a new codec in the field alongside the existing codecs, a first mover will win. This is why U.S. OTA digital television is stuck on DVD/SVCD era codecs, but some countries whose digital transition happened later use H.264.
Furthermore bandwidth prices have dropped through the floor in recent years
Long haul yes, last mile no. Satellite and cellular ISPs tend to charge on the order of $10 per GB. Even wired home ISPs such as Comcast and Verizon have been practicing "congestion by choice", refusing to peer with L3.