Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 12th Jan 2011 17:44 UTC
Internet & Networking With yesterday's news that Google will be dropping H.264 support from the Chrome web browser, the internet was split in half. One one side, there's people who applaud the move, who are happy that Google is pushing an open, royalty-free and unencumbered video codec (irrespective of Google's motivation). On the other side, there are the H.264 supporters, who believe that H.264 is the one and only choice for HTML5 video. One of the most vocal and public figures in the latter group is John Gruber. Following his five questions for Google, here are ten questions for Gruber about WebM, H.264, and standards on the web.
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Hyperbole.
by FellowConspirator on Wed 12th Jan 2011 20:22 UTC
FellowConspirator
Member since:
2007-12-13

The article's a little hyperbolic and has some inaccuracies.

1.) strictly speaking, h.264 and WebM are equivalent with respect to royalties and patents with the exception one of the holders of VP8-related patents (Google) has given public license to them; WebM will be cheaper, but not free. The royalty-free nature of h.264 is now set to expire in 2014, but so will many of the patents covering it.

2.) MPEG-LA wouldn't be a patent-troll per se. They were formed by the consortium of the technology developers and original patent holders and they've always been up front about their claims.

3.) Is correct, but it's not clear why it's important. It will take a few years before the technology is pervasive, at which time it probably won't be relevant.

4.) Some browser makers. However, web browsers make a minority of the video distribution and production space. Almost all modern video tech outside of the web is based off h.264.

6.) VP3 is improperly compared to h.264. It's much closer to ISO/IEC 14496-2 which came out a year prior to VP3. ISO/IEC 14496-2 (h.264) are most closely comparable; they are contemporaneous and use many of the same technical approaches.

7.) This overlooks the fact that perceived patent issues with VP8 and it's predecessors contributed to the sale of VP8 to Google.

9.) It's a loaded question. The browser should rely on the platform it runs to provide support for codecs. The only reason this conversation exists at all is because some want to move responsibility for implementing video codecs directly into the browser itself instead of the operating environment (the idea being that it might simplify implementation and consistency).

10.) I don't think Apple cares, honestly. They use h.264 because everyone else does. Their platforms offer video playback and transcoding through a common API and a codec plugin architecture (as does Microsoft). Adding support for WebM really only requires pushing out the codec in an OS update (or an OS X download). You don't find WebM anywhere yet, thought, so why add bloat?

The arguments are kind of silly. Google has good reasons to push for adopting a codec wholly controlled by them as the de facto standard. It gives them the ability to be the sole arbiter on matters of DRM, etc. For Apple and Microsoft, it's pretty much an annoyance. For the video production and distribution industry, it'll be an enormous pain in the butt.

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