Monday, March 25, 2013

Nokia Cut Across Google's Play For Video Monopoly

Well done Nokia for taking Google to task over WebM.

Let's look at the story so far. Web video is made up of codes, wrappers, formats and all kinds of devices, many of which were very incompatible until MP4 and H.264 became a 'standard'. This flavour of video works on most devices and is now predominant on the web.

However, H.264 is subject to many patents, none of which were owned by Google, so the company, in its benevolence, decided to instigate a project that would establish a truly open source format.

Sounds great doesn't it. Until you remember that this is the company responsible for Google Reader and all kinds of other products that it discountinues as soon as they stop to serve its corporate purpose.

Worse still, in order to get there, they purchased a commercial company called On2 whose codecs were widely used by Flash video and elsewhere. So, not surprisingly there is some 'previous art' as IP lawyers would call it, in play (and that is where Nokia comes in). Google has 'open sourced' the VP8 codec and the WebM container format and is, no doubt, hoping to use YouTube's massive leverage to spread it far and wide. Rumours have cireculated that all YouTube video in future will be served in WebM format, thus forcing all device and platform manufacturers to support it if they want YouTube. Clevel, eh ?

This is the precise reason why you should not, under any circumstances, use WebM, or even, for half a second, contemplate adopting it.

Another reason is that a superior codec called H.265 or HEVC is on its way.

Plenty of companies have fallen for Google's business models in the past, so let's make sure they're not able to build another total monopoly in the video business.