“Who is happy about this?”
[…] Source: http://www.macalope.com/2011/01/12/short-answer-to-a-simple-question/ […]
Who needs Chrome, anyway…
Now Chrome will just be a shiny turd… A polished shiny turd.
It’s as if they think users will change their behavior as a result of this.
They won’t. They’ll just use a different browser.
Does Google really think they have the leverage to make this fly? And that’s aside from the whole ‘bold faced lie’ aspect of the announcement.
‘Open technologies’ my ass.
People who want choice (obviously not in regards to video codecs, but most users don’t care about that. As long as their videos play their laughing.) It’s actually got quite a nice GUI.
Nobody “needs” Chrome. It is, however, a superb browser – very clean interface and top-notch performance. Here’s a link to a browser shootout that shows it soundly outperforming the other browsers – http://sixrevisions.com/infographs/browser-performance/. IMHO it’s probably the best browser out there…
Funny how John Gruber asks this simple question, then answers himself in his Macalope persona. Classic.
If Google do go through with this, It may be time for Chromium to get Forked.
You can’t used BSD or GPLed software to push your Political Agenda by removing features; The Community can just add those features back in.
Dan, you are an idiot. =/ How is the open source community going to afford the h.264 license? In face, OSS version of Chromium NEVER supported h.264, only the google branded version did.
Right. And it’s Adobe’s fault for having a product that gets around all this fragmentation bullshit. Damn them. And of course Google’s is the first company to ever exclude other technologies on their platform.
Uh, what? H.264 is a bona fide open standard with widespread industry support that is practically the only reason mobile video is worth a damn. Google is not cutting out a dead protocol that’s at the end of it’s life, or a proprietary standard controlled by one company (Flash). Google is making a political decision that will damage mobile computing, confuse users and serve no other purposes but Google’s the Freetard excitement over this stupidity is the clearest example yet of why FSF and GPL are practically irrelevant to users and even to a growing number of open source developers.
H264 is NOT an open standard. Why on earth would you say this? MPEG-LA (not in any way associated with the motion pictures experts group) owns the patents & can certainly charge those (like Google, like Hulu, etc) who make money serving video. In fact, although they recently dropped the threat of charging royalties on content that is ‘free-for-use’ (largely due to the opening up of On2’s VP8 codec of WebM), prior to this they had the option of doing so once their 2015 moratorium expired. Please let me know how this fits into your concept of ‘open’…
Mozilla never supported h264 and already was set to support WebM in addition to the crappy Ogg Theora codec that they currently support. I’m sure they’ll be happy if it help accelerates the death of MPEG-LA and the end of h264.
See the following:
According to Mozilla’s vice president of engineering, Mike Shaver, this issue is more than a simple choice about picking the right technology for the job. It’s about principles. Supporting the H.264 video codec means paying licensing fees to an organization called MPEG-LA, a group that charges $5,000,000 annually for the codec’s use. But it’s not the cost to their organization that Mozilla is worried about – it’s the cost to the developers, distributors, and anyone who wants to create video content on the web. “If H.264 becomes an accepted part of the standardized web, those fees are a barrier to entry for developers of new browsers,” Shaver writes on his blog. “I want to make sure that there are no toll-booth barriers to entry for someone building a whole new browser, or bringing a browser to a whole new device or OS, or making and using tools for creating standard web content.”
In other words, the decision to support or not support the codec isn’t just about technology, it’s about where the web is going and what it should be. And in Mozilla’s eyes, that means free, open, and available to anyone.
I wonder if anybody will say that this is acceptable because they’ll draw parallels with Apple’s decision to not employ and thereby limiting Flash.
The Google message boards are full of exactly that sentiment, from freetards incapable of realizing the difference between open source, open standard and “free”. Or those who are also incapable of understanding the broad hardware support (and reasons for) H.264 employs. In fact, I dare say that the aforementioned freetards are under the impression Apple owns the spec.
Lack of hardware support for WebM is the biggest risk here. Actually, I’m guessing that they’re pushing this out right now so that HW vendors start making devices with WebM support sooner rather than later. I guess the later they waited on this the more damaging they felt the problem would become. With the flood of iPad pretenders still not ready to ship, I suppose this makes sense.
As far as Apple & the h264 spec – although they don’t ‘own the spec’, they (& Microsoft) do own a number of it’s key patents. Not that I think this really means anything to them, but I’d assume that Apple would get some chunk of all license revenue from MPEG-LA…
I’m sure Adobe is thrilled, but this is deeply disturbing for the web in general and seems very short-sighted of Google.
Not sure why Adobe would be thrilled here. Adobe currently supports h264 playback (& creation via adobe tools) & doesn’t support WebM yet…
As far as Google goes, while you might disagree with their decision, terming it ‘short-sighted’ is certainly not correct. In addition to the $155M they paid last year for On2 to open up On2s VP8 codec (aka WebM), they’re risking quite a bit here to make sure that they (& the vendors within the streaming ecosystem) are not stuck having to pay MPEG-LA huge amounts of money down the road.
Adobe is thrilled because Google is not dropping the decidedly non-open Flash Player from Chrome. And since it will be difficult for content developers to encode for three formats, they will stick with Flash as their primary format for video.
This whole thing is a direct attack against Apple with Adobe being a short-term benefactor.
I was not happy. This is too similar to the QuickTime vs RealPlayer vs Windows Media wars.
I converted a small fraction of my site’s videos from Flash to mp4. This took months just to support mobile devices. I don’t see how I can get a WebM converter (who makes one with a GUI?), reprocess everything (I’m hearing it can be 20min/video) and reupload – at 50kb/s.
On the otherhand, I have no problem supporting Flash for Chrome. Users who hate Flash over native video won’t be happy. I would have liked to use the HTML5 video tag. I really wanted only one codec to dominate. Needing multiple codecs, makes HTML5 nothing close to a standard, even if it is open. Open, but unstandard.
Don’t dismiss Chrome, Kitko. For the masses who do not use a Mac, whether by choice or otherwise, it’s good that there is a non-Mozilla alternative to IE (and, no, Safari on Windows doesn’t count).
Mozilla is the other answer to the original question, by the way.
July 2011: YouTube announces it’s dropping support for H.264 later this year.
September 2011: Jobs announces iTube, “for the 100+ million iphone users who love their H.264 video.” iTube also features VoD from Big Content with either Hulu style ads or One Click purchasing. “Works great with the new Apple Home Cinemas.”
December 2011: Microsoft pushes out IE 9.1 with ad blocking enabled by default as a “security measure”. Curiously doesn’t affect Bing.
April 2012: YouTube tries to staunch the bleeding ulcer by reenabling support for H.264.
October 2012: In the face of sagging profits, Eric Schmidt is forced to step down. Sergei, sans monkey shoes, steps up to lead Google promising both “better profits” and a return to google’s roots of “Do No Evil”.
Heh, heh, heh. Nice.
Goggle’s action is so hippocritical – dumping the open standard H.264 while keeping the devil’s child Flash in its womb – that Google has essentially killed Chrome as a browser option.
It’s true! My Flash user’s manual has ‘666’ printed in invisible ink on the cover! I’ve been saying this for years, but no one believes me.
While I’ve never actually used the native H.264 video codec in any browser, as a hippopotamus myself, I am not happy with any hippo-critical action.
Damn those hippos!
But I think you’re right. Maybe they haven’t killed chrome, but they’re crippling it. I can’t believe they’d be so Microsoftian, but it won’t work. MS had huge marketshare when they used their embrace and extend strategy. There are too many good competitors in the browser market today.
This does hurt the open web a little, too. But Google is mostly just cutting off their own nose to spite Apple’s face.
I’ve got all these potatoes, though, and without Chrome how will I turn them into tasty fries?
Isn’t it about time Apple just buys Adobe and be done with it?
@John T sez, “ Isn’t it about time Apple just buys Adobe and be done with it?”
I’d guess about a hundred times more likely for Google & Adobe to tie the knot. I don’t think Jobs is vindictive enough to want to waste shareholder money in engineering a bloodbath, and it’s hard to see it working under the best of intentions.
Google, OTOH, seems to find Flash an excellent content delivery tool and increasingly likes to control distro. One of the interesting little problems with h.264 is that MPEG-LA guarantees that content providers who charge nothing can use it for free, forever. But if YouTube were to sell its vids to the Comcasts and Verizons of the world (letting them strike special deals with ISPs who could, as cable does today, insert its own ads, then Google is on the hook for fees (the magnitude of which I cannot guess).
This becomes an interesting little speedbump for Google’s zoom to galactic domination.
Naw, Chrome is a fine browser option.
For people with MacBook Airs who don’t want to have a Flash plugin but do occasionally want to look at Flash content.
All I’ve ever used it for, myself.
Who, besides tech nerds, uses or has even heard of chrome?
Seems like such a non-event.
anyone who’s visited http://www.google.com in the last year?
What an absolutely ignorant comment, Jimmy. Chrome had a 10% (& growing) browser share in 2010 – about twice as great as Safari…
BTW – Firefox, which (unlike Chrome until now) has never supported HTML5 playback of h264 outside of Flash, had a 22% share.
I guess the world has a much greater percentage of ‘tech nerds’ than anyone imagined.
I think it is more than that. Android supports Flash, iOS does not and never will. This is a direct attack against Apple’s mobile OS, plain and simple.
And Apple didn’t deserve it? Their overnight announcement hurt a lot of developers – many of whom were committed to the Mac platform. Dumping Flash will prove to be one of the dumbest things Jobs has ever done.
“Overnight announcement,”? You must be kidding. Adobe knew this Apple was not happy about the mobile Flash player for a very long time and picked the option to ignore Apple – continuing a long stream of dissing Apple. So…Apple did not dump Flash, actually quite opposite is true. Only recently – a long time after the Flash issue became an Adobe/Apple issue – has Adobe started delivering anything even remote usable on portable devices. And it is usable for only a short time because of battery drain.
It is hilarious to me that the many, many geeks and other that protested Apple’s action to not try and jam Adobe Flash player onto its devices are often the same people that first downloaded FireFox because of the ability to install Flash-blocking extensions!!
And that’s why it’s retarded. H.264 is not some pet codec of Job’s and Apple. it’s an actual industry standard. It’s a stupid, shortsighted move on Google’s part and no good will come of it.
Hippocritical? Oh, this is yet another mythical beast: part hippopotamus, part Googler, part hypocrite!
I had just started using Chrome for those few instances where I needed Flash (after I removed Flash from my system). I was getting so used to it, I was considering dumping Safari. Not now.
Just to be precise, H.264 isn’t open. It is patented and licensed, but all the big companies (and I think Google is one of them) have licensed it for production of videos as part of a consortium, and I think pay patent fees. (This is why Mozilla doesn’t support it.) I’m pretty sure client side licensing is waived for you as a consumer. If my recollection is right, if you are video producer or a codec implementor, fees may be required (but I think there are levels of exemption).
(Perhaps I should have “Googled” this first, but then again, so could you.)
My understanding is that non-commercial h.264 encodes are guaranteed free forever. Commercial distributors, e.g. BlueRay producers, etc., license it on some rather ordinary terms, I’d wager, or they’d have gone elsewhere.
Decoders pay a per-destination fee, up to a capped number of devices sold per year. It would be spare change in the receptionist’s drawer for Google.
But it’s NOT just “the principle” of it. If YouTube wants to sell content to distributors such as Comcast, their license fees just changed. Unlike BlueRay or satellite broadcast, a YouTube video probably isn’t worth distributing if you have to pay somebody else 0.01¢ per video, and the entire business breaks down.
Give Google credit for looking forward. Maybe this’ll prompt MPEG-LA to change their license terms and we’ll all go back to arguing about Chevy vs Ford.
Good summary. Will wait for any lawyers to jump in and correct, but I think that you’re pretty much spot on in your understanding.
1 key thing here to point out is that prior to WebM being opened up from VP8 by Google, h264 was not ‘free forever’ (for free-use) from MPEG-LA. It was only after Google opened up WebM that MPEG-LA announced a moratorium on content delivered free to end users.
BTW – speaking of ‘looking forward’, is there any reason why Apple wouldn’t eventually move on and drop h264 for WebM in the future? Can see why they wouldn’t short-term, of course, but long term I think it makes a ton of sense. HTML5 w a true high-quality open codec that all vendors (such as Mozilla) are on board with works for Apple & everyone (short of MPEG-LA),I think. They’d lose their (& MSs) cut of eventual MPEG-LA license fees, of course, but can’t imagine that these would even come close to outweighing the benefits of such a landscape…
h.264 is “open”. The specifications are publicly available and anybody can implement it without getting permission. There are open source implementations of it (the x264 encoder may be the best h.264 encoder available, better than any paid version). It is covered by patents but then so is WebM. We just know how much those patent licenses cost for h.264 while we don’t for WebM. And no it doesn’t natter what Google says about this (they aren’t indemnifying anybody anyway). Wait until a big company deploys WebM without licensing the required patents and watch them get sued.
Free and open don’t mean the same thing.
I’d think Mozilla is pretty happy, too.
Funny, but I had recently settled on Chrome for my Mac’s browsing duties. Now, for this massively thick move, I must dump it like a bag of stinky dead meat. Seems like sides are being drawn, and I’m on the side that my Mac works best on.
Bye, bye, Chrome…
I’ve ditched Flash on my Mac. But when I want to view web content that requires it I use Chrome. That’s all I use Chrome for and likely all I’ll ever use it for.
Has any tech journalist askedGoogle if there was any deal with Adobe behind this? (wads of filled brown envelopes or otherwise…)
Perhaps I’m missing your point here, but who would be passing envelopes to whom? Would Adobe (whose Flash Player supports h264 but NOT WebM) be passing money to Google to kill the few (pc focused) non-Flash html5/h264 video streams that are viewable on Chrome? Did they also make a deal with Mozilla on this? Did this happen before or after Castro killed Kennedy???
Yeah. I thought about installing Chrome on my iMac but I can’t get over the Google installer/updater thing that is automatically installed without permission. When I found out about it I got rid of all my Google software.
probly need to think about how much google does with adobe already, in the ad biz. few seem to talk about that.
Hey, Macalope! You’re not the only one who can throw out wild-assed, “mark my words” scenarios.
Maybe this’ll force MPEG-LA to announce a perpetual 10¢ per player license, period.
Or maybe, Jobs’s muttering that some patent lawsuit was being prepared against Ogg will be realized. Others have claimed that VP8 is dirty, too. Let the wars begin!
Even without these, I’ll guess that in two years, either (a) Chrome plays h.264 perfectly nicely, or (b) Chrome is irrelevant. The fact that h.264 is at the heart of modern Flash videos and Silverlight (not to mention Blue Ray, satellite TV and a host of others) means it’s in no danger of going away until a technically superior alternative is out. And NOBODY claims that either VP8 OR Ogg is even at a par with h.264.
Pair it with a forecast that Apple will announce next week that although they STILL haven’t seen Flash running “well” on any smartphone, anywhere, Apple will try a different tack to getting it on the phone: as soon as Adobe makes Flash a perfectly free, open, consortium-based and -licensed standard (yes, Google’s reasoning in not supporting h.264), Apple will happily do the work that Adobe has so far been unable/unwilling to do on 90% of all the smartphones in the world today.
Did I leave anything out?
Doesn’t seem so. Add video conferencing an CCTV to the list of hardware with native H.264. All that this decision proves is that Google’s mantra of “Don’t be Evil” is horseshit. But Job’s already knew that.
Regarding a quality comparison – I’ve encoded a ton of content for both h264 (baseline through high) and Ogg Theora and have done a number of tests on WebM. In my experience (& in the many side-by-sides I’ve seen at conferences), h264 and WebM/VP8 actually are pretty much at par (h264-high a touch better depending on implementation of codec features such as CABAC entropy encoding), while Ogg Theora is considerably worse. Mind you, I’m just talking about quality of trans-coded content at this point – right now the tools, hardware support, etc for WebM are extremely limited & not even close to being on par with h264 (or VC-1)…
Here’s a link to a good side-by-side by Jan Ozer:
I’m not happy either. Think its easy carry the devil’s spawn and casting aside the healthy baby h264!?
Oops, forgot: Adobe will announce that Flash will be able to wrap around Ogg and VP8. Real Soon.
Mozilla is pure open source. When they did the same it was from a pure open source philosophical stand point. But since google has decided to do this it *feels* dirty. This is a pure jackass move by google. I don’t quite know how I feel about it. Google has always offered and left it up to the user to choose what software or service they want. They even have made it easier on some things. The old google philosophy was about ” hey user, we offer you gmail, but it’s cool if you want to use hotmail. We don’t care. But expect to hear from a lot of your friends how great it is.”
This feels wrong. It’s definitely over the line in my mind. The line that google has very rarely (although of late recently they have crossed it more and more) crossed of throwing it weight around.
Whats up goog? May I remind you you are not m$ or apple. I expect them to be “tech partisians” not you. Sure you have come out swinging when something big and important happend (which effected the user).
I suppose it was time for you to grow up. Look at you now. Hopping up outta bed with those dirty wireless carriers. Trying to swing a big sledgehammer down on a problem nobody was looking at nor cares. How much more or that don’t be evil bullshit will melt away when you get the deals with the tv media companies and they start pushing google tv for you?
Money is for nothing and checks for free, eh?
> I wonder if anybody will say that this is acceptable because they’ll draw parallels
> with Apple’s decision to not employ and thereby limiting Flash.
H.264 is an ISO/IEC standard, it’s vendor neutral, anyone can make their own player. FlashPlayer is none of those things. Further, H.264 is built-into mobile and PC hardware, while FlashPlayer barely runs on a tiny handful of mobiles.
> Just to be precise, H.264 isn’t open.
That is total BS. H.264 is an ISO/IEC standard, totally open to everyone. Nobody can be denied the use of H.264. The way you can tell it is open is everybody uses it. There are players from Apple, Adobe, RIM, Samsung, Sony, Microsoft, and thousands of others.
> It is patented and licensed
Everything is patented, everything is licensed. The license specifies zero patent fees and zero patent liability to all content producers and content consumers.
> but all the big companies (and I think Google is one of them) have licensed it for production of videos
Fees only apply if you make an encoder, like Apple, or sell individual copies at retail, like Apple. The fees are tiny: 2% of each video, and only up to a yearly cap that Apple likely reaches by the first week of January.
> if you are video producer
> fees may be required
Again, content producers pay NOTHING. And for that, the video they make plays on every mobile and PC on earth, right out of the box, as well as all set-tops and Blu-Ray players, no matter what the brand. It is a great deal. Consumers pay nothing, and they get to buy whatever brand of technology they like (not just Google technology) and they can shoot on Canon, edit on Mac, watch on BlackBerry, share with friends who have entirely different brands. No other video codec offers that.
The only people who pay for H.264 are people who are making a ton of money off it by selling endcoders or retail video that is popular because H.264 is universal. The 2% you kick back is NOTHING because you sell 1000% more copies than you would of Ogg encoders or retail video. H.264 MAKES money for the very few people who pay. The 2% goes to the engineers who created H.264. It is a very small price to pay. And we are already halfway through the patent term, after which the fees expire.
And what should not be lost in this debate is that H.264 WORKS! Nothing else does.
Finally, if we speak specifically to open: H.264 playback in Chrome has moved from open HTML to closed FlashPlayer (which not only plays H.264, that is its native format now). So what Google just did was close Chrome’s video, not open it further. Publishers will support Chrome the same as Firefox, by falling back to FlashPlayer playback of their H.264 video. So an “H.264 isn’t open” argument is foolish in the face of an integrated FlashPlayer. By no stretch of the imagination is FlashPlayer open.
> Maybe this’ll force MPEG-LA to announce a perpetual 10¢ per player license, period.
That would be a million times more expensive than the current license fees. The fees are not even close to that. And the MPEG license forbids the raising of fees more than a very small percentage every 5 years. So they can’t go up like that. And the fees cannot be perpetual, they only go until the patents expire, and we are already halfway through the term.
Further, MPEG-LA won’t be forced to do anything. MPEG-4 is a very successful standard, moreso than any HTML or other Web standard has ever been. And H.264 still plays in Chrome via its integrated FlashPlayer.
> The license specifies zero patent fees and zero patent liability to all content producers and content consumers.
Where does it say that??? From MPEG-LA’s own PR statement:
“Products and services other than Internet Broadcast AVC Video (Internet Video that is free to end users) continue to be royalty-bearing, and royalties to apply during the next term will be announced before the end of 2010″
>And what should not be lost in this debate is that H.264 WORKS! >Nothing else does.
Not sure exactly what you mean by ‘Works’ here. If you’re arguing that HTML5/h264 works in all HTML5 supported browsers, you’re actually wrong. To actually support HTML5 video tag in Firefox, you have to use (the poor quality) Ogg Theora codec.
For all those using Chrome as a browser for viewing Flash content; you do realize that you can install a simple Safari extension to enable click-to-flash? No flash unless you explicitly request it. It’s not that difficult, people, and it most certainly does not require using two browsers and dealing with the resultant rift between bookmarks and browsing history.
(My profile link points to the plugin, BTW; I use it every day, and it even replaces the YouTube5 plugin for Flash → HTML5 video adaption.)
Alice: But that plugin still purports to be Flash to the server, and then requiring the user to take additional action to view that content. This approach us great for avoiding automatic playback (annoying animated ads, etc) but still, in a very real way, “condones” the use of Flash on sites.
Some users prefer to clearly indicate “No, I do not have Flash installed AT ALL” in the metrics gathered by the server – thereby communicating desired usability changes to the content provider (e.g. “Go to a non-Flash implementation, if you want me to visit your site”). The only way to do this, is to completely disable the plug-in entirely. Using Chrome (only) as a backup browser in these instances, provides a convenient escape clause, in those few must-have situations.
Gruber has a great walkthrough of how to go Flash-free, on his site:
Wow… this page is seriously messed up in every browser I can use on OSX
Oh wait, comments page is fine???
h.264 is much more open than it could be. It’s a published standard, after all. It probably wouldn’t have succeeded if it weren’t, given today’s development processes. (It’s just plain harder to develop something when you need to be under NDA to do anything — no open discussions on the Web, you have to go through legal departments before talking to anyone, etc.)
But if you make an h.264 video with your home webcam, you don’t fully own it. As in, you cannot do anything you want with it. Most of what you’d want to do is fine because you can do it for free, and you don’t really need to be aware that you’re only allowed to do it because the MPEG-LA says you can. Specifically, you are doing things that require a license, it’s just that the terms of the licensing agreement say you don’t have to pay (or do anything else). Some of those things could conceivably start costing you in 2016.
But other uses of your video are not allowed. Even though you bought your very own videocamera, you f*cked your very own wife, and are now making videos of your very own resulting kids, it is not YOUR video. You cannot sell copies of the video. You cannot use it to advertise birth control products, even if it serves that purpose implicitly.
If you don’t believe me, read your videocamera’s manual.
Sure, if you manage to sell a few hundred thousand copies of your video, the MPEG-LA might let you do what you want in exchange for some royalties (that really wouldn’t cost you much).
What I don’t understand is how I can agree to a license without even being aware of it. Do I need to reread my entire car manual to be sure it doesn’t say somewhere in there that I can’t make more left turns than right turns in any 24-hour period? What other things am I agreeing to without realizing it?
Back to video, though. While it doesn’t seem so bad to have a mysterious license floating around as long as you can safely ignore it 99.9% of the time, try contrasting this with anything else you might create. If you write a book on fancy paper, the paper manufacturer doesn’t have any say in what you do with the book. If you take still photographs, the camera manufacturer doesn’t tell you what you can use them for. Same for audio recordings, scrapbooks, sculptures, sock puppets, etc. Why is video so special?
Which brings me to my last point. The assertion that the royalties you pay go towards feeding the starving children of the engineers who “invented” the h.264 patents is bullsh*t. I work in a related industry. Some of the things in those patents really did seem new and interesting at the time they were dreamed up, but a hundred other engineers were having the same ideas at about the same time, because they’re just what’s needed next after other people figured out the stuff they depend on. And the related technology reached a point where those sorts of advancements were needed, whereas earlier they would have been irrelevant curiosities. In fact, the same things have been independently discovered many times since then, but scuttled because someone now “owns” them. And thus we’ve poured sh*t under the wheels of progress.
Also, the incremental payment of another $1M in royalties contributes exactly $0 to the paycheck of any of those engineers, but it could be legitimately argued that the employer would never have hired them if not for the potential gain, so I won’t go there. Other than to say that a different employer would have hired them; those ideas really were the next thing the industry needed in the direction it was going, and there are many ways to benefit other than royalties.
Notify me of follow-up comments by email.
Notify me of new posts by email.