Posted on May 19, 2010
Video for HTML5: The latest update
On2’s VP8 video codec “is now fully open and completely royalty-free,” thanks to Google (source: DZone).
This is a big deal not only because Apple — in its full-out war against Adobe — has declared Flash video to be a non-starter and crowned H.264 the online-video heir apparent, but also because H.264 is no more open, really, than Flash (FLV and F4V) video.
When HTML5 is fully baked and comes out of the oven, we will be stuck with whatever video standard(s) has been baked in.
I don’t want us to be stuck with a proprietary standard controlled by Apple, Adobe, or Microsoft — or Google.
Google completed its acquisition of On2 Technologies, Inc., in February 2010. While most people have never heard of On2 (which has a pretty weird name, it must be said), its video codecs were part of Sorenson Squeeze back when I first started struggling with Web video several years ago, and they were often preferable to the other options available because they gave very good results — always a trade-off between file size and audio-visual quality in video.
Google, along with Mozilla and Opera, is part of the WebM Project, “dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format for the web that is freely available to everyone.” Although they haven’t run around screaming about it, they are no more eager to accept the status quo of Flash video for the future Web than is Apple.
If Adobe were really smart, they would have open sourced (fully) not only their video formats but also the SWF format. Like, a month ago. I kept waiting for them to do it. But no — just more posturing, like Apple, like dictators of small, violent, self-absorbed countries.
In this game, it seems to me that Apple and Adobe are equally pigheaded and old school. Meanwhile, Google — while surely not a mild-mannered philanthropist in its corporate heart of hearts — has done what one of them should have done, instead of pouring gasoline on the fire.
Is this over yet? I’m sure it is not. But Google’s (apparent) commitment to open standards is better for all of us than a proprietary lock-out (or locked-down) approach.