Google reaffirms intent to derail HTML5 H.264 video with WebM browser plugins

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
After igniting a hailstorm of controversy over its intent to drop HTML5's H.264 support from its Chrome browser, Google has reaffirmed its intent to push its own open WebM video codec via Flash-like plugins for Internet Explorer and Safari users. The reason: Google wants to ship free platforms without incurring external licensing fees.



Google's Mike Jazayeri detailed the company's new push behind WebM by writing in a detailed blog posting that the groups involved in developing the HTML5 video distribution standard "are at an impasse. There is no agreement on which video codec should be the baseline standard."



The impasse that wasn't there



That "impasse" actually occurred years ago, when Opera and Firefox developer Mozilla began pushing to define Ogg Theora as the baseline for HTML5 video, a position that was staunchly opposed by Apple and Nokia back in 2009, in part because their mobile devices already relied on the hardware optimized H.264 video codec. Conversely, Mozilla rejected H.264 because it involved paying royalty fees.



The HTML5 working group members finally agreed to disagree; rather than defining Ogg Theora or H.264 or anything else as the "baseline" codec for video served via the HTML5 video tag, they left the decision up to the market and to the votes of web users and Internet broadcasters. This decision parallels how HTML works with every other type of media file; there is no baseline graphic or audio format, for example, which allows web publishers to decide for themselves whether to use GIF, JPEG, or PNG graphics formats, or whether to use MP3, AAC, or raw WAV audio files. Modern browsers support them all.



Ever since the debate about HTML5 video was settled in the specification by simply skipping over a defined "baseline" video format, web video producers have overwhelmingly chose to move to H.264. There's a few good reasons for this. First, H.264 is very efficient at compressing data, and lots of tools exist that can encode data at high quality and high speed.



Secondly, H.264 was already widely supported by consumer devices and applications, in particular Apple's iPod and iPhone and iTunes, which essentially only play H.264. Apple's strong push behind H.264 and its openness as a standard that anyone can implement (although there are royalties involved) has encouraged hardware makers to similarly offer mobile devices that very efficiently play H.264 video using hardware acceleration.



Baseline video among browsers: H.264



On the web, all of the major browsers added the ability to play H.264 video apart from Firefox, which held onto the ideal of only supporting Ogg Theora because handling H.264 would involve licensing fees that Mozilla would have to cover for a potentially unlimited number of users that might reuse its code under the GPL license that Firefox is offered under. That makes licensing H.264 prohibitively expensive for Firefox.



That situation created two camps of browsers: one, the commercial browsers from Google (Chrome), Apple (Safari), and Microsoft (Internet Explorer), all of whom have no problem paying for the H.264 license, and the open source browsers from Google (Chromium) and Mozilla (Firefox), neither of which could properly license H.264 for an unlimited global audience under the GPL/LGPL. Google's new policy shifts Chrome into the second group.



However, the vast majority of Firefox users are running on Windows or Mac OS X, both of which already supply licensed code supporting H.264 video playback. Thus, the only users affected by the "impasse" described by Google are Linux users. This is currently a commercially insignificant demographic, but Google has aspirations of shifting the world to Linux, in mobile devices with its Android OS and among netbooks and low end PCs with its upcoming Chrome OS. If this happens, the tiny market share of Linux among consumers will suddenly matter.







On page 2 of 3: The Open Source ideal, Why Google isn't afraid of patents



Freedom's just another word for nothing else to pay



However Google doesn't sell either Android or Chrome OS; it gives them away. Microsoft sells Windows, while Apple bundles Mac OS X and the iOS as part of its hardware sales. That leaves Google as the only significant platform vendor that won't be selling its platforms, but will still need to be licensing commercial technologies, and in particular H.264 video playback, if the world continues to standardize on H.264 for video distribution.



So in this dispute, Google isn't standing up for open standards, it's standing up for the right to push ads through platforms based on free operating system software, relieving it from having to deal with Microsoft and Apple and other platform vendors. The only way it can afford to do that is if video is delivered without technologies that cost money.



Google has little stake in delivering high quality video; it serves moderate quality web videos through YouTube that could be (and have been) delivered with less than start-of-the-art codec technologies. Apple and Microsoft both deliver HD video products, sell commercial movies, and have plans to deliver the future of HD television. Google's TV strategy primarily revolves around injecting its ads into other broadcasters' content, a concept that so far has been an unmitigated disaster.



Google therefore sees HTML5 video as desperately needing a free video codec to prevent it from having to sell its platform, which could otherwise be free. In order to make that happen, Google purchased On2 and hastily released that company's commercially failing VP8 video codec as an open standard under the new brand WebM. The codec isn't as sophisticated as the open H.264, in part because it was created internally by On2 as a proprietary product.



Why H.264 is better



H.264, on the other hand, is a pool of the intellectual property and engineering talents of every significant organization currently involved in developing video technology, ranging from Sony and Philips to Apple and Microsoft. All those companies participating in the H.264 standard have agreed to pool their patent claims and charge all users a fair, nominal royalty fee to benefit those that collectively created the technologies that make H.264 so efficient and sophisticated. They're also collectively working on future enhancements to H.264 and its eventual replacement, H.265.



H.264 is also much more mature, having been adopted as the preferred codec by Apple's QuickTime 7 back in April of 2005. Since then, Apple has incorporated H.264 support throughout its product line, ranging from desktop systems to mobile devices with hardware-based codec acceleration.



The rest of the industry has also adopted H.264, ranging from mobile devices and cell phones to HD disc formats (such as Blu-ray) to cable and satellite TV transmissions to web video, from Google's own YouTube to Vimeo to Brightcove to Adobe's preferred Flash Player codec. The actual H.264 specification is continually evolving, with new and expanded profiles and amendments.



Microsoft's competing Windows Media codec (aka VC-1) is used by its Xbox 360 and within Silverlight, and was the primary codec in the now discontinued HD-DVD format. It's included in the Blu-ray specification, but most Blu-ray titles are encoded using H.264. Windows Media codecs are based on the MPEG-2 H.263 specification.



Sorenson's proprietary video codecs were once the primary codecs used by Apple's QuickTime, until sophisticated MPEG specifications began to emerge as industry standards. Sorenson 3 was actually based on the MPEG-4 H.264 draft specification. Apple moved to its own internal implementation of H.264 in 2005. The MPEG 4 container format is based on QuickTime, which Apple contributed to MPEG in 1998.







The Open Source ideal



In the minds of free software advocates, the notion that anyone should benefit from the licensing of their own technology is ideologically abhorrent. Thus, they've been seeking to develop a video codec technology assembled by volunteers that can be used without anyone paying for it. The problem is that you get what you pay for.



Until Google swept in to buy On2, open source advocates had standardized on Ogg Theora, a nearly decade-old specification based on an earlier proprietary codec that had been abandoned by On2. It was neither efficient nor commercially viable nor capable of being decoded by existing hardware, a feature that is essential to efficient video playback by mobile devices.



These show-stopper problems did not thwart open source advocates, because there were no other credible free alternatives. With Google's purchase of On2 and the open sourcing of On2's more modern VP8 as WebM, it appeared that Ogg Theora could be replaced with a more modern version of a codec that the very wealthy Google would be supporting, one day perhaps even eclipsing the sophistication of H.264.



A key problem is that all of the catchup progress in developing WebM's video codec must pass through a number of areas that are patent minefields. WebM simply can't be improved without running afoul of the vast patent pool of all the companies collectively working to define MPEG standards like today's H.264 and the upcoming H.265 that will one day replace it. Everyone knows this, and many observers, including the MPEG Licensing Authority that manages H.264, also believe that WebM already infringes upon its members' patented technologies.



Why Google isn't afraid of patents



Google must also know this, but it isn't afraid of running into patent issues because it isn't directly earning any money selling anything that might infringe upon those patents. If Google's Android oversteps patents held by Nokia or Apple or Microsoft (and it allegedly has), those companies won't sue Google, they'll sue HTC and Motorola and other Google licensees that are using Android to sell their hardware (as they already have).



Unlike hardware makers such as Apple, Microsoft, Motorola and Nokia, Google hasn't been the target of nearly as many patent lawsuits. Google's first major brush with patent lawsuits, when Overture sued the company for infringing upon its paid search business model, was settled by Yahoo buying Overture, and then Google giving Yahoo billions of its stock to prop it up as a phony competitor.



That cost Google nearly nothing, while all the talent from Overture subsequently flowed to Microsoft and Google as Yahoo crushed the acquired Overture team under its own incompetent leadership, killing more birds for Google: a major competitor, the potential threat of a monopoly investigation, and the need for hire additional talented employees.



Google's act, arguably pulling off the world's most blatant patent infringement and then building a company worth $200 billion on top of it, was simply an overture to its next: ripping off the world's biggest consumer technology product using a clone of the world's largest write-once, run anywhere platform. While Apple didn't sue Google over the iPhone (something that would be hard to seek damages over, given that Google gives away its Android software), Java's new owner Oracle decided it would.



Oracle expects to demand licensing revenues from Google's distribution of Android. That would force Google to either create a new, non-infringing mobile platform from scratch, or begin paying licensing fees to Oracle that might cause the Android project to be worth less to Google than it earns from Android's mobile ad revenue. However, that case hasn't been settled yet, so Google is currently emboldened to replicate its success in stomping on others' patents and simply paying them off afterward, much as Microsoft did in the 90s.



This confidence is also behind Google's rapid open-sourcing of On2's VP8. Unlike Netscape's methodical open sourcing of its browser to create Mozilla (which took years) or the very slow process Sun took in opening up Solaris and portions of Java, or similarly cautious open source projects created by other companies (including Apple's efforts to open up its Darwin OS), Google simply threw the WebM specification on the web almost immediately after acquiring On2.



Like a drunk teen barreling down the freeway in the wrong direction, Google seems confident that nothing bad will happen because the company hasn't yet experienced any significant problems doing that sort of thing in the past. At the same time, if Google were truly confident that its WebM is free of patent hazards, it would indemnify third parties who implement it from patent threats. It hasn't. Google is essentially gambling with the resources of its hardware partners. Even if they lose, Google still wins.



On page 3 of 3: Open source vs. opening other's source, Outlook for WebM not so good



Not motivated by open innovation



Google is insisting that its move to thwart H.264 adoption by removing support from Chrome is simply an effort to push the web to technologies that any company can afford to use, while noting that "it is clear that there will not be agreement to specify H.264 as the baseline codec in the HTML video standard due to its licensing requirements."



However, while this may be true, the only hold outs in supporting H.264 are Opera, which has negligible share among web browsers, and Mozilla, which is almost entirely financially supported by Google. This is a problem Google could solve by covering Firefox's licensing fees, or by simply pulling the plug on Firefox and allowing it to go out of business just as Netscape itself did before its software product was propped up as free open source project living off Google's life support.



If Google were truly interested in open ideals, it would also abandon Adobe Flash, which also delivers its video via H.264, but does so as a proprietary plugin that pays its own way onto Google's platforms.



Partnered with Adobe's Flash Player, Google can roll out commercial video on Android and Chrome OS and simply have Adobe pay for it as the middleware vendor of a proprietary plugin platform running on top of Google's own. This makes it clear that Google's WebM strategy has little to do with openness, and is really just intended to save Google money.



If the planets align for WebM: a best case scenario



Google has actually created a new impasse of its own: HTML5 video, if forced in principle by Chrome to use WebM as its baseline (and exclusive) codec, will require all web users to either select Google's Chrome, the Firefox or Opera browsers, or install plugins to view WebM content; Google announced it will be supplying plugins for Safari and Internet Explorer. This holds out the potential for an ideal future where every browser plays video via WebM's free codec as a baseline, while Safari and IE could also offer H.264 playback as an option.



However, WebM is worthless on existing mobile devices, most of which can't even install a plugin to play WebM content. This could be addressed in the future by simply upgrading all new mobile devices with new WebM hardware acceleration (which doesn't yet exist), but there are other issues involved, including the lack of commercial viable WebM encoding tools. However, the biggest problem by far is that WebM will eventually run into patent issues from everyone else in the video industry that has already worked to hammer out the vast H.264 specification, which address far more than just the web video role WebM hopes to address.



If WebM isn't already in trouble on the patent front, it certainly will be every time it attempts to improve along the same patented footsteps H.264 developers have already worked their way though at considerable expense. Google may be professing support for open ideals, but its real motivation is to conduct its advertising business without paying to use the technology other companies have already invented. In doing so, it may cause more problems that it attempts to solve.



Open source vs. opening other's source



Google has taken WebKit's browser code and appropriated it into the successful Chrome browser, but Apple, KHTML, and other contributors that helped build the WebKit codebase willingly offered their efforts up as a free software project under a permissive reuse license to encourage its use, specifically in order to enable products like Chrome to exist.



Google's attempt to take commercial technologies and turn them into open source projects under its own control and at the objection of their rightful owners is a very different situation. Apple benefits from sharing WebKit; it does not benefit from Google simply taking the iPhone and replicating its patented features. Oracle similarly benefits from some aspects of open development, but is not interested in giving away its proprietary Java technology to Google for free distribution as part of Android.



Similarly, all of the contributors of the H.264 specification are not going to be content with Google duplicating their patented efforts and offering it for free to enable more efficient distribution of Google's ad platforms. That's why the MPEG LA has already promised to take legal action over WebM patent infringement, and will undoubtedly demand licensing fees from anyone who attempts to use WebM in place of H.264 or borrow further improvements from the H.264 patent pool in order to embellish WebM as a technology in the future.



Apple's "open" is collaborative



In contrast, Apple's decision to promote H.264 in place of proprietary video codecs such as Sorenson or On2 or Microsoft's Windows Media was done with the intent of having world class video technology to use in building its hardware products. Apple solely supported H.264 and the related AAC in the iPod, which helped the new standards take off and, through economies of scale, resulted in widespread, low cost availability of hardware optimized silicon that can play H.264 efficiently on mobile devices from any vendor.



Additionally, Apple's attempts to replace dependance upon the Adobe Flash plugin with ubiquitous web standards including HTML5, H.264, CSS and JavaScript are not based upon duplicating Adobe's technology and offering it up as open source, but rather rely upon existing open standards that can be enhanced and extended without running into Adobe's patent portfolio. And if they do, Apple can negotiate to open those patents by including them into the joint development of those web standards, in the same way Apple has contributed its own patented technologies, royalty free, into HTML5 (such as was the case with the Canvas element Apple invented).



Apple's promotion of open web standards, in particular the open HTML5 specification and the open source WebKit code implementation, demonstrate that the company is aware of the benefits that open software and open standards can provide in creating interoperability and a level playing field. If Apple thought that the same could be done in the area of video codecs, it would have pursued doing just that nearly a decade ago when it began work on implementing H.264.



While Apple had the ability to borrow KHTML's browser code under its open source license to build what would become WebKit and the Safari browser, it could not do the same to build an open video codec, because video technology is progressing too rapidly under the intense competitive pressure of a number of technology companies. That calls for an approach that respects the existing work already created and patented by stake holders.



Incidentally, the open, collaborative development of MPEG standards was what killed the proprietary efforts to develop video codec technologies at Microsoft, Sorenson, and On2 (before Google acquired it). While Sorenson and On2 were already failing five years ago, Microsoft was working hard to displace MPEG standards with its own Windows Media codec. Without Apple's heavy consumer-oriented push behind H.264, the world's video likely would have fallen under the control of Microsoft, as was being confidently predicted to occur by most pundits around 2005.



Apple pays for pre-existing IP, Google not so much



Apple is often cited as a royalty recipient of H.264 by its open source critics, but the company is by far a minority stakeholder in the MPEG patent pool. If Apple actually owned H.264, it wouldn't be licensing it from the MPEG LA; it would be distributing it as closed source technology just like its Cocoa frameworks. Alternatively, if Apple thought it could build a quality implementation of an open video codec based on an existing open source project, it would do so and distribute it for free just like its WebKit software or CUPS printing software or Darwin core OS.



As it is, Apple recognizes that other entities already own those video technologies, so it's paying the MPEG LA to license them, just as it pays to license Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync, or Amazon's One Click retail patent, or the DVD specification (which includes MPEG-2), or the trademarked name "iOS" from Cisco, among many other things.



Google is trying to pull off a hybrid of those two options, taking proprietary software that is likely to infringe patented technology and "opening" it as a free solution, apparently oblivious of how it will evolve given that all avenues for progress have already been patented. While it has yet to be stopped by patent action from Oracle, Google's premise of a free web codec will definitely be assailed by the collective action of all of the MPEG patent holders, making Google's WebM effort a dead end pursuit that can only help to hold back the commercial progress of HTML5 and H.264 outside of the ideological bubble of the open source movement.



Outlook for WebM not so good



Rather than replacing H.264 with a nearly as good but free alternative, WebM can really only possibly thwart the progress of web publishers who want to serve video that their viewers can see, doing so using open, interoperable web standards. Rather than using HTML5 and H.264, Google hopes to promote HTML5 via WebM, but it is actually just incentivising a return to delivering video via Adobe Flash, which can already reach Opera, Firefox and Chrome users without reencoding existing content from H.264 into WebM (something that is slow and inefficient with the existing tools available).



At the same time, while Google can certainly throw chaos into play by removing H.264 playback from its own free platforms and browsers, that move will likely hurt Google more than it will adoption of H.264. Neither WebM nor Flash are supported on iOS, which is not only a significant percentage of the mobile market, but also represents a far more valuable demographic than Google's Android, which according to Gartner is primarily being deployed in China and emerging markets by no-name "other" manufacturers. If Android can't play H.264, it won't push vendors to jump through hoops to encode for WebM or the poorly performing mobile version of Flash. It will push smartphone users to abandon Android.



Similarly, if the Chrome browser and forthcoming Chrome OS can't play H.264 without involving Flash, it will only make those products less attractive to would-be buyers. Moving from Chrome back to Internet Explorer or Safari is not difficult (and will be even easier if Apple ever fixes the memory leaks and poor performance dogging its own browser), while selling Chrome OS and its inherent limitations as a web-only platform will be very difficult if it can't play industry standard video.



This gives Google very little leverage in trying to force WebM adoption the same way Apple has pushed the adoption of H.264, HTML5, ACC, and other open standards, whether they involve third party licensing or not. Additionally, even if Google removes H.264 support from Chrome and or Android, users (or hardware makers or carriers) can add it back, greatly diluting Google's leverage against H.264 among mobile devices.



Ultimately, Google's efforts to derail H.264 are unlikely to have a significant impact on H.264, but may cause uncertainty that could slow the adoption of HTML5, resulting in H.264 video being delivered instead via Flash on the web, integrated within iOS apps, or served as straight HTML5 H.264 videos that won't play on Chrome, Chrome OS and Android without an H.264 plugin. The primary casualty of those outcomes would be Google itself.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 481
    Linux X.264 works just fine for H.264 videos.



    This has to do with Google trying a divide and conquer attack.
  • Reply 2 of 481
    wonderwonder Posts: 229member
    "brewer" !!!!!
  • Reply 3 of 481
    You can repeat it as many times as you want, but H.264 is NOT an open standard. It contains patented technologies, which means it isn't "open", no matter how many times Appleinsider says it is.



    Ogg Theora, however is 100% open, and is now supported by both Mozilla and Chrome. Since Google owns YouTube, I assume YouTube will switch to Ogg very shortly.



    That leaves Safari with H264, which is not exactly a dominant player in the browser market right now. The iPhone is no longer the dominant smartphone platform, either, so Android should also push more folks into using Ogg.



    While I understand Apple placed it's bets on H264 (understandable since they are an MPEG LA licensor), I think it'll be forced to include Ogg support once YouTube makes the switch - I think the iPhone needs YouTube more than YouTube needs the iPhone at this point.



    Does anybody else remember when Appleinsider used to pay at least passing lip service to the fact that most stories have to viewpoints? Lately every article can be summed up with 2 simple points:



    1. Apple is Correct/Perfect/Amazing/The Future/Putting the Customer First

    2. Not Apple (Google, MS, Consumer Reports, etc) is WRONG/FLAWED/STUPID/SO LAST YEAR/ONLY INTERESTED IN MONEY.
  • Reply 4 of 481
    philbyphilby Posts: 124member
    Working with speech-to-text looks like fun

    (...) drop HTML5's H.264 support from its Chrome brewer, Google (...)

    (...) Mozilla rejected H.264 because it involved paying royally fees. (...)
  • Reply 5 of 481
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Yup, looks like we're all going in reverse. From good GPUs to rubbish BundleGate nonsense GPUs in Intel CPUs.



    From H.264 (and remarkable progress in x264) back to... (eww) Ogg (even the name sucks!)



    Regarding your point, DED obviously has a one-track mind but in this case his point is valid. Google is taking something that infringes patents and then "opens" it which means basically spreading the liability to others. Android is clearly as I mention a copy of iOS in many, many ways but what liability have they had to bear so far? Additionally, the point remains. No matter how free, open and wonderful WebM is now, to improve the codec (which I assume one would want) there is no way you won't step on the prior art of H.264 developers which have made some of the best strides in video compression in the history of computing.



    Don't look at the sites which compare WebM/VP8 to H.264 Baseline. Look at H.264 High Profile encodes of 720p content encoded with x264... Nothing quite comes close. Pure-CPU playback is efficient, more so than sometimes rendering of Flash sites/animations. Plus hardware acceleration is really taking off. Sandy Bridge H.264 encoding blows away even GPU-accelerated encoding.



    If there is any "evilness" to H.264 that is where Google should try and settle their differences by negotiating better licensing, lower royalties, whatever. Not by these increasingly Microsoftian moves.



    WebM is clearly just cannon fodder in whatever war Google thinks it is waging... It will slow down H.264 but in the long run I can't see it becoming dominant.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    You can repeat it as many times as you want, but H.264 is NOT an open standard. It contains patented technologies, which means it isn't "open", no matter how many times Appleinsider says it is.



    Ogg Theora, however is 100% open, and is now supported by both Mozilla and Chrome. Since Google owns YouTube, I assume YouTube will switch to Ogg very shortly.



    That leaves Safari with H264, which is not exactly a dominant player in the browser market right now. The iPhone is no longer the dominant smartphone platform, either, so Android should also push more folks into using Ogg.



    While I understand Apple placed it's bets on H264 (understandable since they are an MPEG LA licensor), I think it'll be forced to include Ogg support once YouTube makes the switch - I think the iPhone needs YouTube more than YouTube needs the iPhone at this point.



    Does anybody else remember when Appleinsider used to pay at least passing lip service to the fact that most stories have to viewpoints? Lately every article can be summed up with 2 simple points:



    1. Apple is Correct/Perfect/Amazing/The Future/Putting the Customer First

    2. Not Apple (Google, MS, Consumer Reports, etc) is WRONG/FLAWED/STUPID/SO LAST YEAR/ONLY INTERESTED IN MONEY.



  • Reply 6 of 481
    Google's intentions more likely involve wanting to be able to control the video format they use. Paying a license is clearly not that big of an issue to Google or why would it have done it up until now? From a technical perspective YouTube has millions of videos to manage, and is only now moving to HD video. All that data will require one hell of an infrastructure to maintain, and controlling the fate of the base format that video is probably a big incentive.
  • Reply 7 of 481
    Man, I am so over this whole open-source bull$#it floating around at the moment.

    I lost favour with Google years ago due to their absolute disregard for user privacy. They are an advertising company pretending to be a technology company, nothing more.

    This article could be summarised down to one line which appeared half way through: 'You get what you pay for'.

    At the end of the day, the main beneficiaries of open-source are academics (who get paid regardless, and would rather see their work progressed than make 2-billion dollars) and armchair coders looking to steel other people's work (how much open source code ends up in closed commercial binaries without due referencing)?

    Good professional coders deserve to get paid, so they can afford to live. I'm absolutely sick of people claiming open-source to be some kind of noble gift to mankind. Commercial companies only offer up open-source when it suits their own commercial interests, or they've written off the asset.
  • Reply 8 of 481
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    Ogg Theora, however is 100% open, and is now supported by both Mozilla and Chrome.



    But how will Ogg be improved without stepping on the patents of H.264? Can it give me 720p playback at low CPU use on various phones, tablets and computers?
  • Reply 9 of 481
    I have enjoyed this site daily for a long time now but this one article got me to register finally.



    I'm a die hard apple fan and always have been. MS pushed me to Apple in the beginning because I got really tired of the difficulties with MS OS or the many problems with hardware from the many manufacturers. Unlike any PC user I know, I have never had to replace a mac because of a hardware issue of any kind. They have all just worked. And so it is with experience that I appreciate apple and what they do. Google I have enjoyed for search and maps but this is a really interesting article to point out the details behind this situation. I have a better understanding now how google has gotten away with so much as of late and it's a shame that Jobs and Co. let the serpent of google into their board just to steal what terrific ideas apple had. Google is trying to recreate the past battles of MS and Apple. I thought we were finally beyond opposing operating systems. Now we're headed into three? With the money created from it's ads, why can't google just suck it up and pay the royalties. It's sickening when people try to reap profits from the hard work of others without paying. I'm a fan of innovation and quality. If there are more like this, then google will fail. Android is so broken on all platforms that it won't ever beat the iOS. If it were more like MS and Google took itself more serious then it would work consist on all devices just as MS operating systems do on all the variety of manufacturers PCs. All PCs can upgrade the OS. Most Android phones can't. I'll happily pay for an iPhone (the true original smartphone) or an iPad (the original perfect tablet). Honestly, if Google invented the Sock Monkey, then I'd buy that instead of the iSockMonkey. Google needs to pay the fees and keep advertising like it does best.
  • Reply 10 of 481
    nvidia2008nvidia2008 Posts: 9,262member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by FranklinBluth View Post


    Google's intentions more likely involve wanting to be able to control the video format they use. Paying a license is clearly not that big of an issue to Google or why would it have done it up until now? From a technical perspective YouTube has millions of videos to manage, and is only now moving to HD video. All that data will require one hell of an infrastructure to maintain, and controlling the fate of the base format that video is probably a big incentive.



    But H.264 is their best alternative in managing that video base. Both in terms of efficiency, tools and technology in encoding and decoding.



    The amount that Google would have to invest to bring WebM up to the robustness of H.264 is certainly substantial. Of course, they hope to leech off the work of "open source" idealists.



    For example, if they switched their encoding server farms to Sandy Bridge CPUs, that alone offers some amazing H.264 encoding potential (read up the benchmarks at Anandtech).
  • Reply 11 of 481
    archosarchos Posts: 152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    You can repeat it as many times as you want, but H.264 is NOT an open standard. It contains patented technologies, which means it isn't "open", no matter how many times Appleinsider says it is.



    It is not the opinion of AppleInsider. "Open" has long referred to specifications that are openly presented to enable interoperability. It does not mean, necessarily, Open Source or Free Software. Repeating what you think doesn't make that the case either.



    Quote:

    Ogg Theora, however is 100% open, and is now supported by both Mozilla and Chrome. Since Google owns YouTube, I assume YouTube will switch to Ogg very shortly.



    That leaves Safari with H264, which is not exactly a dominant player in the browser market right now. The iPhone is no longer the dominant smartphone platform, either, so Android should also push more folks into using Ogg.



    You're a bit behind the times in your open source reading material. Now that Google purchased On2 and published VP8 as WebM, there's absolutely zero reason to support or use Ogg Theora, which is based on the same company's VP3 from more than half a decade prior. It's ancient garbage, and the FOSS community is now ready to admit that now they they have WebM.



    The problem is that while being newer, WebM still shares some of the same problems Ogg Theora had (apart from its ridiculous name)



    Quote:

    While I understand Apple placed it's bets on H264 (understandable since they are an MPEG LA licensor), I think it'll be forced to include Ogg support once YouTube makes the switch - I think the iPhone needs YouTube more than YouTube needs the iPhone at this point.



    Let's get real: YouTube isn't going to exist if it moves to WebM only. Also, YouTube is a file sharing site. It's handy, but if Google screws it up, everyone will just move on to Vimeo or Facebook whatever other new site offers better video sharing.



    Quote:

    Does anybody else remember when Appleinsider used to pay at least passing lip service to the fact that most stories have to viewpoints? Lately every article can be summed up with 2 simple points:



    1. Apple is Correct/Perfect/Amazing/The Future/Putting the Customer First

    2. Not Apple (Google, MS, Consumer Reports, etc) is WRONG/FLAWED/STUPID/SO LAST YEAR/ONLY INTERESTED IN MONEY.



    Why don't you refute actual comments, rather than making broad, generalizations that say nothing? Is it perhaps because when you venture into detailed opinions it becomes obvious that you don't know what you're talking about, as is apparent above?



    Google is obviously screwing up lots of things, including Android. MS has lost most of its monopoly power through sheer incompetence (IE now at 45%? Who would have guessed that?! and yes, CR has been silly for a while now. Apple has jumped from being a quarter million Mac per quarter company with a $13 stock price to being an international powerhouse that dictates standards, delivers pretty amazing products, and sells something like 30 million devices per quarter, is worth more than any tech company and nearly the most valuable publicly held company on earth (behind Exxon Mobile!). Maybe they're doing something right.
  • Reply 12 of 481
    morkymorky Posts: 168member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    You can repeat it as many times as you want, but H.264 is NOT an open standard. It contains patented technologies, which means it isn't "open", no matter how many times Appleinsider says it is.



    Does anybody else remember when Appleinsider used to pay at least passing lip service to the fact that most stories have to viewpoints? Lately every article can be summed up with 2 simple points:



    1. Apple is Correct/Perfect/Amazing/The Future/Putting the Customer First

    2. Not Apple (Google, MS, Consumer Reports, etc) is WRONG/FLAWED/STUPID/SO LAST YEAR/ONLY INTERESTED IN MONEY.



    First, H.264 is fully open, it's just not free (open != free). Secondly, AI is not alone here. Read last week's Arstechnica treatment on this. It has a lot more detail, and is in basic agreement with this article. Lastly, the cost of H.264 is negligible for the parties that have to pay for it (capped at $6M per year for the biggest licensees with at least 60M users), so I still don't understand why Google is doing this.
  • Reply 13 of 481
    tjwtjw Posts: 216member
    'Why h.264 is better'



    great quote from the article. If it just so happened that apple favoured webm and google h.264 then this would read 'why webm is better' such is the subjectivity of this article.



    The fact remains that webm has a better chance of being an open source standard with no royalty fees and so this is what should be pursued. Google hold all the cards here because of youtube. If they dropped h.264 support (which they won't) then the web would change overnight. Who would buy an iphone or ipad when the only video you can play is from apple?



    The easiest solution to this would be for apple to just support webm, they don't lose anything through this.



    I also love how the chart on page one describes mobile safari and 'most other mobile browsers', remember here with the rate of android adoption - the majority of browsers, including desktop and mobile together, will support webm.



    After all though, clearly the biggest winner here is flash, and since apple don't support flash, the biggest loser is apple.
  • Reply 14 of 481
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Superbass View Post


    You can repeat it as many times as you want, but H.264 is NOT an open standard.



    Let me explain instead: By definition of standard bodies, such as ISO, H.264 is open. By definition of organizations such as FSF it is not. Both assertions are correct. These are just two different connotations of the word ?open?.



    From juridical point of view openness has nothing to do with royalty payments, those concepts can and do co-exist in a single IP entity. From the free (as in freedom) software advocates being open means putting no limits on its use.



    I think those who banging their heads over ?open? and ?free? true meanings are missing the big picture here: there are codecs that are technically superior to others. There are codecs that are widely supported across hardware and software platforms and there are other codecs which enjoy less support. And there are certain inconveniences of having two or more codecs where one would suffice.



    Where does this put WebM? In my opinion WebM will go the way Google Wave have gone. Inevitable H.264 plugin for Chrome will rule the day. But that?s just my opinion. If you think that being Open and Free gives you huge market leverage you are welcome to differ.
  • Reply 15 of 481
    kodakoda Posts: 4member
    why does the chart on first page lists

    Firefox - HTML5/H.264 - No | Yes with plugins on Windows or Mac



    last time I checked the plugin was available on windows only, is there one also for mac?

  • Reply 16 of 481
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,683member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tjw View Post


    The fact remains that webm has a better chance of being an open source standard with no royalty fees and so this is what should be pursued.



    So its massive technical inferiority to H.264 (e.g. poor encode/decode performance, worse image quality at equal bitrates), lack of hardware support (= abysmal battery life for mobile devices) and poor production tools should all be ignored just because it's free?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tjw View Post


    The easiest solution to this would be for apple to just support webm, they don't lose anything through this.



    But consumers do. Worse quality video with crappy battery life. No thanks.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tjw View Post


    I also love how the chart on page one describes mobile safari and 'most other mobile browsers', remember here with the rate of android adoption



    I'll give you that one. Not sure what DED was smoking when he decided mobile Safari has a 95% market share.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tjw View Post


    After all though, clearly the biggest winner here is flash, and since apple don't support flash, the biggest loser is apple.



    Flash is a "winner" here is as much as this move by Google makes it exceptionally unlikely that HTML5 will kill flash. But your logic that it will therefore harm Apple is incorrect.



    IE9 is going to support H.264 HTML5. All iOS devices support H.264 HTML5. Flash video supports H.264. As a content provider this means you can encode your video once (as H.264) and serve it up with two different wrappers: IE and iOS get the video in an HTML5 wrapper, and everything else gets the video in a Flash wrapper. Where is the incentive for the content provider to go WebM? Choose H.264 and it's easy to serve your content to everyone, choose WebM and you can't serve your content to iOS devices. It's a no-brainer.
  • Reply 17 of 481
    winstwinst Posts: 26member
    Behind the "Do No Evil" and "open source" masks, Google is just another large corporation flexing its muscles and tries to dominate a market so it can make more money.
  • Reply 18 of 481
    Great article!
  • Reply 19 of 481
    If Google did the right thing and relinquished control of the WebM to a standards body I would be supportive but they haven't because they want to control WebM just like with Android.



    Google likes to use the term 'open' because it appeals to people with a particular wordview. If you look at another way, Google is simply exploiting the open source community, getting them to work for free, and adding to Google controlled and exploited products like Android/WebM.



    "Do no Evil', really??



    Shouldn't it be more like: " Externalise costs and risks to third parties to protect advertising monopoly cash-cow".
  • Reply 20 of 481
    gctwnlgctwnl Posts: 273member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by scottkrk View Post


    "Do no Evil', really??



    Shouldn't it be more like: " Externalise costs and risks to third parties to protect advertising monopoly cash-cow".



    Indeed.
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