Needless to say, this move by Google has caused a lot of fuss, however it’s a logical extension to Google’s moves to date, and really shouldn’t surprise anyone.
It’s been obvious since Google bought ON2 Technologies for $133 Million that H.264 was on the way out at Google. No company, even one as cash flush as Google spends that much money for fun.
Yes, H.264 has better support at present. CP/M had better support than PC-DOS/MS-DOS at one time. Yahoo had better support than Google. Mac OS had better support than Windows. All lost out to other technologies.
Change is inevitable. Google has a huge stake in online Video, through it’s ownership of YouTube. By working with a Video Codec that they own, Google is going to cut it’s costs. It’s that simple. And Google has the muscle to pull it off. Youtube is the third most visited site on the internet.
It doesn’t matter that Microsoft (Internet Explorer) and Apple (Safari) don’t intend to support WebM directly. Both IE and Safari support plugins, and Google has the technical skill needed to implement WebM plugins for both browsers.
That this happens to help Free Software, and meets with the approval of the Free Software Foundation is incidental to Google’s main aim. To make money.
In this case Google’s and our interests coincide. In other cases, such as the Android GUI, I’m not so sure that they do. Hell, in a lot of cases I know that they don’t.
Google’s using us in this case, to gain an advantage. That’s fine, we use Google for our own purposes.
FYI, YouTube is already accepting uploads in WebM format, I’ve tried it, and it works great.
Wednesday January 19, 2011