the web is not built on patents

| 50 Comments

No one owns the Web. It's not built on patents. People building Web sites and applications, people using Web sites and applications, and people building Web browsers and other Web clients all benefit from this very important freedom whether or not everyone realizes it.

Mozilla, and our friends over at Opera, have insisted on this important fundamental principle of the Web as we've built out support for HTML5 <video> in our browsers. Today, with notice that they intend to stop shipping the patent encumbered h.264 video codec in Chrome, Google has joined Mozilla and Opera and lent its significant weight to this critical aspect of the Web.

With approximately 40% of Web usage happening through these three browsers, VP8+Vorbis in WebM will soon have the critical mass it needs to become the standard video technology for HTML5's <video> tag.

update: Mozilla's Mike Shaver has a great post on this development.

50 Comments

Actually, the situation is even better, counting only the browsers that support

kadir, you are correct. I estimated with Blizzard a while back that of the video tag capable browsers, WebM will be about 2/3rds and MP4 will be about 1/3rd.

A bit hypocritical considering they still ship their browser with their own version of Flash, which is completely closed.

This seems like more of a move to shift people to their preferred format, which is inferior.

Quite frankly, the video quality isn't as good as h.264 and hardware support is way off and not included in the tons of mobile devices currently out there today that help provide smooth playback and better battery life.

Bacon, I disagree.

You paint a pretty negative picture that I think misses a lot of the nuance that's actually critical to the long-term health of the Web.

I don't think Google ships Flash because they love Flash. I think they ship Flash because it's the only way they know to keep their users safe (sandboxing and automatic frequent updating) while still supporting a lot of legacy Web content.

(FYI, Mozilla implemented support for parts of the non-standard IE DOM and supports NPAPI plug-ins too, because you can't ignore 15 years of legacy content on the Web if you want users to adopt your browser so you can bring them more of the future of the Web.)

In my view, WebM is only inferior if you restrict your definition in very specific ways. It's far superior in terms of licensing. It's got more momentum from browser vendors. Its video quality per bit is competitive with h.264 and improving all the time. Its audio quality is better per bit than MP3 which has been plenty good for most all of the audio industry. There is hardware support out there today and the number of hardware vendors adding support for it is growing & will grow even faster with this renewed momentum.


- A

How is dropping h264 which is used by a ton of websites and devices any different than dropping Flash which is used by a ton of different websites?

Supporting WebM is fine. Dumping h264 for WebM this early in WebM's life in the guise of "openness" when h264 is already widespread on the level of Flash and implemented in a bunch of devices that people use every day RIGHT NOW for the "future" while continuing to ship Flash is asinine.

I know you're happy since in the long run it benefits Firefox and ultimate the web, but I'm not convinced this is anything other than Google using their muscle to stick it to Apple and iOS users so things are done their way.

Bacon said "How is dropping h264 which is used by a ton of websites and devices any different than dropping Flash which is used by a ton of different websites?"

H.264 in the video tag does not have years and years of legacy on the Web. The overwhelming majority of sites that offer H.264 video offer it in Flash. The biggest site that offers it for the video tag is, you guessed it, YouTube.

I *am* happy because in the long run this benefits the Web. And I *am* convinced this is more than Google using their muscle to stick it to Apple and iOS users. (Apple, with it's fingers deep in the h.264 patent licensing pie, is the one you should probably be more suspicious of.)

Shipping Flash or supporting Flash is a far different case from what we as an industry decide to do with HTML5 video. Flash is a longstanding incumbent with lots of legacy. HTML5 video is still very new. It matters a lot what we do in these early years of HTML5 video and Mozilla, Opera, and Google all understand quite well what's at stake here.

- A

Then I'm sure the Android team will shortly be announcing that they will no longer support h.264 either to help promote "openness".

In the end, this will do little other than force Chrome users watch h.264 with the Flash player. Google can get around this with Youtube, but I really see no one else following their lead.

WebM just isn't big enough yet, and content producers aren't going to switch to it since devices like the iPhone have years of legacy in people's everyday lives.

"Then I'm sure the Android team will shortly be announcing that they will no longer support h.264 either to help promote 'openness'."

For Web video using the HTML5 video tag, it wouldn't surprise me at all.

"In the end, this will do little other than force Chrome users watch h.264 with the Flash player. Google can get around this with Youtube, but I really see no one else following their lead."

I was working on Mozilla in 2000 when everyone, even those friendly to Mozilla, were telling us that it was hopeless -- made extra super duper hopeless because we wouldn't support Microsoft's proprietary ActiveX. We fought for what was right for a healthier Web and I think we succeeded. So I invite you to come back here in 3-5 years and let's see who was right.

"WebM just isn't big enough yet, and content producers aren't going to switch to it since devices like the iPhone have years of legacy in people's everyday lives."

c.2001-2003, "Mozilla just isn't big enough and Web developers aren't going to start writing to Firefox and Web standards since IE has years of legacy in people's everyday lives. Give up. The 'blue e' *is* the Internet."

We've heard this all before and while we may be wrong, we're not going to stop trying to make the Web a better platform just because people tell us we can't possibly succeed.

- A

I'm not going to hold my breath in regards to your Android theory...

I never said you or WebM couldn't succeed, I said it wasn't ready YET. You mentioned supporting non-standard IE DOM in the begining, and Chrome not prematurely dumping h.264 is pretty similar. Stop supporting it when your format of choice is widespread, not when the h.264 industry standard is in full swing.

And I really don't understand how you can defend Google's decision to keep shipping Flash to support "legacy content" and then say that you were right to make a stand against the IE legacy.

Should mp3 support be dropped?

"And I really don't understand how you can defend Google's decision to keep shipping Flash to support "legacy content" and then say that you were right to make a stand against the IE legacy."

A couple of things. One, I didn't defend Google's shipping Flash, I just told you why I think they're doing it. I think they believe that by working with Adobe to build a Chrome-specific specially sandboxed version of Flash and shipping that to their users they can provide a more secure experience to their users who would otherwise just be getting a less secure Flash experience from Adobe.

I see it as a compromise they're making. Nothing is ever black and white (as I said, while we stood firm against ActiveX [security was a major reason why] and a whole bunch of proprietary IE HTML and DOM features, we did compromise on document.all support and that was after years of debate and resulted in a very clever "hidden" implementation that didn't hurt our push for standards-based content.)

Two, plug-ins are a legacy we have to deal with but they're not fundamentally of Web the way HTML, CSS, JavaScript, etc. are. I believe that we have a special responsibility to keep real Web standards free from licensing requirements. Anyone should be able to create (and even sell) Web content without paying a licensing fee. Anyone should be able to consume Web content without paying a licensing fee. Anyone should be able to build Web clients without paying a licensing fee. If MPEG-LA gave a real royalty free license to all of those parties, I'd have no problem adding it to the Web. But they haven't and so I don't think it should be a part of the fundamental and standardized Web platform.

Allowing users to run Flash content in a browser, even helping them do that, is not the same things as helping drive patent licensing requirements into the very fabric of Web.

- A

And I'm not arguing against WebM as a format, but trying to drive patent licensing requirements by pulling support for a widely used codec while keeping a closed player that their users will be watching that same codec in as a result does very little to promote WebM as a whole. All it does is drive more people to Adobe.

Tim F. WebM doesn't use mp3 for its audio either. It uses the Vorbis audio codec which is actually superior to mp3.

- A

"All it does is drive more people to Adobe. "

You and I disagree about the outcome of this change.

You seem to be arguing that this move means only that HTML5 video will be less competitive with Flash video.

I think it helps HTML5 video by having most HTML5 capable browsers lined up on a good format.

As I said above, how about you check back here in 3-5 years and we can see how this played out.

- A

"Apple, with it's fingers deep in the h.264 patent licensing pie, is the one you should probably be more suspicious of."

Apple has four whole patents in the h.264 pool (http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/AVC/Pages/PatentList.aspx). Maybe your definition of deep in the pie is different than mine, but by the numbers, Apple is one of the smallest contributors to MPEG LA. Let's not let our political views get in the way of our facts, please?

HTML5 video tag doesn't specify a format. The HTML5 web browsers, at their most basic, will support WebM or H.264. The most direct route to supporting that is H.264 and H.264 wrapped in Flash.

"Tim F. WebM doesn't use mp3 for its audio either. It uses the Vorbis audio codec which is actually superior to mp3."

When did I suggest this? I'm commenting that Chrome natively supports mp3 for audio. I understand that FF doesn't, and it's not "open" or "spec." It's relevant only to the practicality and hypocrisy argument; in which case, it's highly relevant and more analogous than the Flash argument.

Paul, it doesn't make a difference if you have one or one hundred patents in the pool? MPEG-LA only allows "essential" patents into the pool and believes it has all essential patents in the pool. That's why the pool functions.

- A

"Paul, it doesn't make a difference if you have one or one hundred patents in the pool?" So why use the expressive language then? By the way, I imagined it like: Apple was just walking by the pool and dipped its fingers in the water to gaudge the temperature... versus Philips or Franhofer, for example, who did a blazing cannonball into the deepend and are now porpoising through the depths... so a rather apt image.

The point is: Apple is more invested in it by paying for what they consider to be the best solution rather than in how much they earn by convincing people to use it despite it being an inferior solution. (What is often easily inferred from your flowery descriptions of Apple's relationship with MPEGLA.)

Tim F, I misunderstood your question about mp3. I didn't realize that Google shipped mp3 support for HTLM5 audio. Either that or I did know and had forgotten.

I wonder if they pay licensing fees for that. Aren't most of those patents expired already or very nearly so?

Sure, it'd be nice if they dropped mp3 support. I don't think their dropping it would have any significant impact on the Web though.

I also don't demand 100% consistency before I heap praise on people or organizations for making big moves in the right direction. My world isn't so black and white.

- A

Tim F wrote "HTML5 video tag doesn't specify a format."

Web standards should all be implementable on a royalty-free basis. That's been fundamental to the success of the Web. The W3C, which governs HTML standards, only specifies the element and its DOM APIs and not the codec and container formats. But, to be consistent with the rest of the Web, as it's been standardized by all the major browser vendors working together at the W3C, we should not defacto standardize on a patent-encumbered codec and container.

I'm not sure what you mean by this: "The HTML5 web browsers, at their most basic, will support WebM or H.264. The most direct route to supporting that is H.264 and H.264 wrapped in Flash."

If I'm reading you right, it sounds like you're saying that video distributors do one h.264 encoding and ship it to everyone, either in MP4 HTML5 video or in Flv/FV4 Flash video. Have I got that right?

If so, that's not really the case today. All of the major video hosts already do multiple encodings, in part because iOS doesn't support any of the decent H.264 profiles, only baseline, and no one wants baseline for high-quality desktop viewing.

So, they already have to do multiple encodings and that's all automated. Adding automation to do a third doesn't break the world, especially when you don't have to pay licensing fees. Even transcoding services like encoding.com had no problem adding WebM to their suite. YouTube's added not just a third, but I think a forth and fifth different encoding (and not just containers, either) in the last couple of years.

The balance is not really so dramatically tipped in MP4's favor as many seem to believe.

- A

My world isn't black and white either, but my pragmatism is at least logically consistent.

"it doesn't make a difference if you have one or one hundred patents in the pool?"

Not if you're politically opposed to patents. I was referring to the amount of work and effort Apple has placed into h.264 relative to how much and why it has promoted it. From the minor stake Apple has in the h.264 pool (and the not so minor detail that Apple does not control h.264), the likely reason why they have promoted the codec is its efficiency and hardware support. This is as opposed to Google, which completely controls WebM, as well as one of the biggest sources of web video content, *as well as* a major mobile platform.

Google is seriously starting to act like Microsoft was 15 years ago, but they're wrapping themselves in the cloak of openness. OK, but why doesn't Android accept upstream patches? Why doesn't Google let developers access Android betas, when even Apple gives access to iOS betas? Why isn't AdSense or Gmail open sourced?

Clearly, I'm over-simplifying things and Mozilla has more than one conflict of interest here, but how does taking away a major feature in the name of openness, while leaving a closed, proprietary (not to mention buggy, crashy, insecure, etc) plugin benefit users? How much legacy content is there that justifies Flash, but not h.264? Isn't it more work for Google to keep Flash baked into Chrome than a codec?

I understand the open argument, but keeping Flash makes it seem like a hypocritical jab at Apple (specifically iOS) from a competitor. I don't think the words "monopolistic" or "anti-competitive" apply here, but Google's really starting to smell bad.

Paul, there's plenty I don't like about Google and I've put a lot of that here on my blog (just Bing or Google for my name and "google") but helping to promote a more open Web with WebM is not among those things.

But I just don't agree that dropping h.264 from their HTML5 video support while continuing to support Flash is hypocritical.

HTML5 video is an emerging standard that, if we don't succeed with WebM, will be the first critical piece of the Web platform that can't be developed and used free of licensing restrictions. That's huge and it's something Google can help steer in the right direction.

(It may not seem huge to you, but if Mozilla would have had to pay licensing fees to implement text and images in the browser, there never would have been a Firefox and the world would still be using IE6)

Supporting Flash is a completely different case with different implications and different ramifications. Even Mozilla and Opera, who both come down in favor of WebM and will not ship h.264, support Flash.

- A

"HTML5 video is an emerging standard that, if we don't succeed with WebM, will be the first critical piece of the Web platform that can't be developed and used free of licensing restrictions. That's huge and it's something Google can help steer in the right direction."

The problem is h264 isn't an emerging standard. It has been building towards being the standard for 8 years in almost every application of video. It's already the dominant, de facto standard in many markets and still improving as a technology; for most of the rest: not entrenched but presumed the likely "solution"). It is based on a foundation of decades of work by a core of a handful of companies (but numbering more than 100 total). The web is just one application for video. It can't be a part of the web because why? Heck, Microsoft (Silverlight), Adobe (Flash), Apple (everything), and Google (until today's announcement) -- all competitors -- agreed to use it in significant ways in their web strategies. But open source gets to hold the web hostage? I don't think so. Open source guarantees the lowest common denominator of the web; it does not set the gold standard. High-quality video is standardized and commercial. That's my compromise.

"(It may not seem huge to you, but if Mozilla would have had to pay licensing fees to implement text and images in the browser, there never would have been a Firefox and the world would still be using IE6)"

Nope, not buying it. Mozilla has made many horrendous decisions (had many forced on it that were out of their control) along with good, principled decisions and ended up enslaved to Google's ad dollars and being treated like a charity for subsistence. That's not the fault of patents. That's Mozilla's decisions and principles. To think that no one can commercially produce the best browser, or couldn't even be motivated to do so is not to have much faith in the web or technology at all. I have no problem with what Apple and Google have produced as for as an alternative to IE6. Claiming that it's impossible to exist as a going concern because of license fees isn't even an interesting proposition to me. Your choice, your bad.

"HTML5 video is an emerging standard that, if we don't succeed with WebM, will be the first critical piece of the Web platform that can't be developed and used free of licensing restrictions. That's huge and it's something Google can help steer in the right direction."

The problem is h264 isn't an emerging standard. It has been building towards being the standard for 8 years in almost every application of video. It's already the dominant, de facto standard in many markets and still improving as a technology; for most of the rest: not entrenched but presumed the likely "solution"). It is based on a foundation of decades of work by a core of a handful of companies (but numbering more than 100 total). The web is just one application for video. It can't be a part of the web because why? Heck, Microsoft (Silverlight), Adobe (Flash), Apple (everything), and Google (until today's announcement) -- all competitors -- agreed to use it in significant ways in their web strategies. But open source gets to hold the web hostage? I don't think so. Open source guarantees the lowest common denominator of the web; it does not set the gold standard. High-quality video is standardized and commercial. That's my compromise.

"(It may not seem huge to you, but if Mozilla would have had to pay licensing fees to implement text and images in the browser, there never would have been a Firefox and the world would still be using IE6)"

Nope, not buying it. Mozilla has made many horrendous decisions (had many forced on it that were out of their control) along with good, principled decisions and ended up enslaved to Google's ad dollars and being treated like a charity for subsistence. That's not the fault of patents. That's Mozilla's decisions and principles. To think that no one can commercially produce the best browser, or couldn't even be motivated to do so is not to have much faith in the web or technology at all. I have no problem with what Apple and Google have produced as for as an alternative to IE6. Claiming that it's impossible to exist as a going concern because of license fees isn't even an interesting proposition to me. Your choice, your bad.

"But I just don't agree that dropping h.264 from their HTML5 video support while continuing to support Flash is hypocritical." We'll just have to agree to disagree on that.

"it's something Google can help steer in the right direction." The problem is that the direction I see Google steering is one where Google is *everywhere* on the web. That's a future I find as distasteful as Microsoft dominating the PC. I don't see open source as a panacea for freedom, on the web or in the real world. Its important, but it can be twisted. Over the past year or so, I've lost all trust in Google to act like anything other than a large multinational corporation and see their (highly selective) passion for openness as a smokescreen.

"It may not seem huge to you, but if Mozilla would have had to pay licensing fees to implement text and images in the browser, there never would have been a Firefox and the world would still be using IE6" Don't get me wrong. I'm in no way a supporter of software patents (and absolutely despise biological patents). However, the current situation being what it is, there's no way of knowing whether or not WebM and Theora will survive a patent infringement suit until it actually happens. Is Google going to defend Mozilla? Random silicon presser? HTC or Motorola?

"Supporting Flash is a completely different case with different implications and different ramifications." That's very true, but not what Google's rationalization was.

"Even Mozilla and Opera, who both come down in favor of WebM and will not ship h.264, support Flash." Because its not like Mozilla and Opera are completely without agendas or their own, right? Is it no longer true that most of Mozilla's income comes from Google kickbacks from the search bar in Firefox? (I'm not saying its unethical, but it is what it is.) No one has clean hands here.

"there's no way of knowing whether or not WebM and Theora will survive a patent infringement"

I don't think the situation is all that bad with VP8 or Theora. Just have a look at the video:

http://air.mozilla.com/open-video-codec-discussion-at-mozilla/

It's a good move. It won't be easy to replace h264 with a more open codec but I think Google did a good move for the future of the web.

I know that webm is not shielded from patent trolls but what technology is nowadays.

Lennie, that video explicitly acknowledged that the patent threat is real. How does it support your point?

Opera plays h264 via flash and webm natively
firefox plays h264 via flash and webm natively
Chrome (now) plays h264 via flash and webm natively

Safari plays h264 natively and via flash but can't play webm

Flash will probably gain the ability to play webm thus allowing Safari, IE, and everyone else to play both h264 and webm.

Browsers can show .tif, .gif, .jpg, .png and a few other formats. No reason why they can't someday support 2 or more video/audio formats.

"I'm not sure what you mean by this: "The HTML5 web browsers, at their most basic, will support WebM or H.264. The most direct route to supporting that is H.264 and H.264 wrapped in Flash.""

http://farukat.es/journal/2011/01/488-google-h264-and-video-web See chart.

"If I'm reading you right, it sounds like you're saying that video distributors do one h.264 encoding and ship it to everyone, either in MP4 HTML5 video or in Flv/FV4 Flash video. Have I got that right?

If so, that's not really the case today. All of the major video hosts already do multiple encodings, in part because iOS doesn't support any of the decent H.264 profiles, only baseline, and no one wants baseline for high-quality desktop viewing."

No, this is not what I mean. (I find it very odd that the "free" argument always moralizes providing infrastructure access to the poorest of the poor, the most destitute, deprived, neglected people of the world, and then the argument shifts to mega-corporations who have no problem with proprietary products, obviously, or completely ignores the fact that video is never going to materialize for free.) Let's consider the video producer lacking the most resources. What format are they most easily going to produce video in? H264. It's going to be the format in their device. What's the quickest and easiest way to get that video to the web for others who lack resources AND those who do? H264 via the video tag or H264 wrapped in Flash or via some other plug-in or System-installed or app-installed codec. No need to transcode or alter formats or maintain multiple versions because the odds are good their devices and software support H264, even if they are free or open products, in some way. Using the video tag with any non-H264 format restricts me from a large market. Think of my moral infrastructure rights or whatever? It may not be free, but I also want to target those willing to pay for better as well as those who are poor or dedicated to an ideology even if their devices and software are certainly more likely to support proprietary codecs than any other format. What motivation do I now have to use the video tag at all except to target iOS devices? If I utilize Ogg or WebM, I am definitely missing a major platform I want to target. I will be forced to use a clearing house to encode or to maintain 2 formats. How is that saving me money? The only format worth targeting via the video tag at all is h264 because it is the only solution for a missed platform. Otherwise, Flash now serves a still fragmented market fully (except iOS) while neither ogg or WebM via the video tag are able to address the full market. Hence, this pushes the web back to Flash and H264 via the video tag.

With all this talk of which companies this benefits, and which organisations lose out, people are forgetting someone.

No matter which way you cut it, Google's announcement is bad for the average joe.

Years of awful cross-platform support nonsense was finally coming to an end - the world was about to settle on a format that played well with devices in everyone's pockets and on their desktops.

Then two people came along and decided for political reasons they wanted to ruin the party: Mozilla and Google.

Mozilla, for not just allowing Firefox to use the decoding libraries already on people's computers and devices. There. No royalties, no plugins, nothing. They could have carried on shipping a browser that supports open web standards, and not have to worry about supporting h.264.

Instead they choose to restrict Firefox from using the OS-supplied h.264 decoding capabilities.

And Google, for driving the adoption of HTML5 video until it reached critical mass, then pulling the plug. And the alternative? WebM, this codec which somehow, just somehow, is not affected by patents.

Interesting claim, that. Quite incredible that the world + dog has spent millions on a codec, ensuring it's protected by patents... and we're supposed to believe that WebM has somehow sidestepped all those?


We'll see. Google has deep pockets. They know they'll get sued, and they'll just settle. All they need to do is bide enough time to allow support for h.264 to wane, enabling them to get the leg up on controlling web video with their WebM product. That may be their aim, but it might not work out that way...

Mozilla has little choice but to side with it's funder. By tying it's direction to that of it's principal bankroller, they find themselves having to justify Google's decision-making. Step out of line and Google cuts off the ad-dollars, leaving Mozilla with a fraction of its income stream. Selling t-shirts doesn't quite make up for the cash lost by Google pulling their funding. It's an unfortunate position they find themselves in.


What's sad is the real winner here: Adobe. By dropping support for the progressive, battery friendly h.264, they've just handed Adobe victory on a plate.

Back to square one. Instead of producing video in plug-in free h.264, or WebM, developers will continue to side with flash until the kids stop arguing.

What's even sadder is the real loser: the end user. The average joe, who's now forced to watch video in an old, out of date, buggy, insecure flash plugin, just because Mozilla and Google couldn't move with the times and step into the real world.


This is a sad day for the web and its users.

I'm amazed at some of the shortsightedness on display in these comments. Short-term this sucks for many people, but long-term this is a massive win for the interwebz. It'll be interesting to see how the side-effects play out.

Guys, there is a Major point to make here, that a lot of people are missing, and I'm kinda surprised Asa has not articulated it properly, but has certainly alluded to it several times. The

Promoting a royalty based, heavily-patented-by-multiple-owners format like H.264 does not fit with the goals of creating an HTML5 specification with the spirit of openness and freedom that Asa began this post referring to.

Flash, love it or hate it, is NOT a part of the HTML5 specification directly. It IS however a plug-in, and therefore it IS most assuredly a part of the HTML5 specification (at least as it stands right now). It has every right to be in every browser that will support plugins as per spec, which by the way, iDevices versions of safari do NOT adhere to ( and understandably so to a certain degree).

Cory,

The problem is, web developers won't choose to produce video content in either WebM nor h.264 now, because of this new 'format war' Google has created.

Instead, they'll stick with Flash - which is insecure, buggy, a processor hog, knackers battery life and results in a sub-par experience on the mobile devices it runs on.

You're right that plug-ins are supported by the HTML5 spec, but for something as important as video (which the web is becoming increasingly used for), it's vital that we move away from needing a plugin.

Google doesn't care about pushing WebM - they just care about keeping Flash the dominant player. That hurts their key rival. They're a phone company too now, don't forget, and they have an obligation to their own shareholders, and that is their key priority

I think Asa is naive to think otherwise - Google doesn't think like Mozilla.

John Gruber has it spot on:

"Here, on the other hand, is the scenario I foresee:

Major online video providers (Netflix, Amazon, Vimeo, Major League Baseball, etc.) already have invested in H.264, both technically and legally.

These providers, right now, today, send H.264-encoded video in one of two ways: directly, to clients with native H.264 playback; and wrapped in Flash, for web browsers with Flash Player installed.

Chrome drops support for H.264 and these simply send Chrome users H.264-encoded video via Flash.

These services continue to ignore devices and clients that support neither straight H.264 nor Flash Player (e.g. Firefox running on Ubuntu)."

http://daringfireball.net/2011/01/practical_vs_idealistic


All this does is keep Flash player in the game.

"With approximately 40% of Web usage happening through these three browsers, VP8+Vorbis in WebM will soon have the critical mass it needs to become the standard video technology for HTML5's

No. Sites will just continue to serve up h.264. Chrome users will just get it in a Flash wrapper.

Asa, I did not realize the team of WebM is in Oulu, finland (where I used to live). http://blog.webmproject.org/2011/01/availability-of-webm-vp8-video-hardware.html

Just for that it's good ;o)

Jokes aside, web-browser without the need for plug-ins is the way to go. I as an end-user do not care about patents, installing stuff, or "wars". I need it to work good, fast and it must be simple. I want my experience to be safe, not comprised. And finally, I want choice. I want to make my own Internet choices, as an end-user. As such it is great that WebM is there, and that we can choose. At least that is what we should be able to do.

Content (as in bulk data) that is growing fastest and is a big part of the Internet data is video. It will change the infrastructure of the Internet, already changes devices using Internet, therefore I fully support the ideas of Mozilla, Google and Opera. Eventually even others must see that a browser that need plug-ins to function (and I do not even want most plug-ins that I have installed now) is wrong. Who keeps up with security of those? Is in guaranteed? We do not want governments to step in and decide for us how we should organize these safety issues, because we made wrong choices at the beginning of things...

Patenting of software (and in science also btw in regards to global issues) of pieces that should be accessible for everyone to ensure a open, free, full-of-choices lifestyle (within the constriction of the laws of the regions you live in). They should be part of Humanity. Apart from that Companies should make money on whatever they want.

Marco,

"Eventually even others must see that a browser that need plug-ins to function (and I do not even want most plug-ins that I have installed now) is wrong. Who keeps up with security of those? Is in guaranteed? "

Google's decision means plugins will need to stick around. Content providers will just carry on serving up h.264. If you're a Chrome user, you just get it in a flash wrapper.

@Tim F.

It's already the dominant, de facto standard

They said the same thing about IE6. How great those 10 years of IE dominance were, right?

To think that no one can commercially produce the best browser, or couldn't even be motivated to do so is not to have much faith in the web or technology at all.

That wasn't what he said. His point was that if Mozilla had to pay to implement things like HTML and CSS, it wouldn't have existed at all.

BTW, the HTML spec explicitly makes room for and allows plugin content, such as Flash. It's part of HTML!

@Paul Ward

The problem is that the direction I see Google steering is one where Google is *everywhere* on the web.

So your anti-Google fanboyism compels you to reject everything they do, even when they do something right? WebM is not owned by Google anymore, remember?

Because its not like Mozilla and Opera are completely without agendas or their own, right?

Now you are just starting to be annoying and stupid. Both Mozilla and Opera have a vested interest in an open web. That's their agenda. A closed web would shut both of them down.

@Fergus

No matter which way you cut it, Google's announcement is bad for the average joe.

You have failed to show that this is the case. You have failed to show how an open web is bad for the average joe.

Years of awful cross-platform support nonsense was finally coming to an end - the world was about to settle on a format that played well with devices in everyone's pockets and on their desktops.

That's one of the most stupid statements yet. H264 was a direct threat to not only the open web, but also cross-platform video. Having to pay the MPEG-LA cartel to play video from the web? Insane!

@knackform,

Except average users don't know or care about closed vs open, they care about the experience. So many tech people don't, and never, ever will understand this.

H.264 will continue to be the de-facto delivery method for online video.

For browsers that support it, that means playback natively without a plugin.

For browsers that don't support it, that means playback via Flash.

And Flash does not equal the best experience, especially on mobile devices.

The average joe won't even know Flash is involved; he'll just notice the video is stuttery, the phone is less responsive to button/screen presses, and battery life suffers.

It's *these things* that users care about.

Fergus, you are right. Most people don't know or care about open v. closed. Most people don't know or care about any of the technology that lives underneath their experience of things like the Web, telephones, MRI machines, refrigerators, electricity, water delivery, automobiles, etc.

But it's a damn good thing that the people building these systems do care very much about the technology that delivers them to people. Its our job to care and if we didn't, many of these tools people depend on wouldn't exist or have evolved to where they are today.

The argument that regular folks don't care so vendors shouldn't care is either facile or trolling.

- A

Asa, my point is h.264 will continue to be the delivery mechanism for web video, but Chrome (and Firefox) users will get a raw deal as they will get it in a Flash wrapper. That sucks for them.

@Fergus, stop hiding behind ignorant users. They may not care, but it does not become any less important.

For example: Just because most people don't understand the universal human rights and take them for granted doesn't mean that those who do understand them shouldn't fight for them.

Users take access to the open web for granted. But that is because someone made it possible. You want to roll over and let anyone with power close the web.

This would seriously diminish the experience for users. So even if they have no idea what's going on, they are going to get the shitty end of the stick.

H264 is not the de facto delivery method for online video. Flash is, using various codecs.

Knackform,

Fergus' suggestion that content providors will stick with H.264 and just wrap it in flash for Chrome and Firefox users is actually my main concern.

My worry is content providors won't see any incentive to encode in WebM if Flash sticks around.

I think Google could show they are serious about WebM by having YouTube start delivering WebM (or at least make an announcement to that effect), and also by announcing they will be dropping the bundled Flash player from Chrome.

Otherwise, the web's video producers might see no reason to change anything.

Phil, YouTube has been delivering WebM for quite a while.

@Phil, sites can serve WebM without having to pay for it. That's quite an incentive. The more WebM, the cheaper.

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