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Steve Jobs Is Not Impressed With Google's New Video Format

Illustration for article titled Steve Jobs Is Not Impressed With Googles New Video Format

Google hopes to sidestep the entire HTML5 video debate with a new, open source, royalty free format called WebM. But will Apple ever support it? Judging by to the latest missive from Steve's iPad, things don't look great.

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A Register reader sent a concise email to Jobs' public email address, which he often uses to respond to questions and inject his opinion into tech issues, semi-indirectly:

Hey Steve,

What did you make of the recent VP8 announcement?

Good question! Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera and Google (obv) are all willing to give this WebM thing a whirl. Whether or not Apple incorporates support into its products—particularly the HTML5-savvy iPhoneOS—could well determine the format's fate. Steve responded with nothing but a link. A link to the first widely read screed against WebM, penned by Jason Garrett-Glaser, who works on an open source h.264 encoder project. So, what does he think? Ho ho:

VP8 is simply way too similar to H.264: a pithy, if slightly inaccurate, description of VP8 would be "H.264 Baseline Profile with a better entropy coder". Though I am not a lawyer, I simply cannot believe that they will be able to get away with this, especially in today's overly litigious day and age. Even VC-1 differed more from H.264 than VP8 does, and even VC-1 didn't manage to escape the clutches of software patents. Until we get some hard evidence that VP8 is safe, I would be extremely cautious.

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Garrett-Glaser also mentions poor performance relative to h.264, sloppy definition of the standard, and its seeming incompleteness, at one point observing, "AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" The analysis is exhaustive and extremely technical (I somehow doubt Jobs is versed in the intricacies of DC coefficients and quantization maps, but this Garret-Glasser guy sure sounds convincing!); at times it's hard to know if the writer is using impenetrable jargon to his advantage, if the writer's closeness to his subject tints his opinion. Either way, it's a worthwhile read.

Warrants of the piece aside, I suppose we can take this to mean that Steve's personal opinion is somewhere in the ballpark of "AAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH," and furthermore, that Steve's opinion either reflects company policy, or will soon be reflected by company policy. Apple's adoption would be a major get for WebM, but that looks like that's out of the question, at least in the short term. [Register]

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DISCUSSION

I would say if Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, and Google are all adopting something, Apple would have to. But looking at Flash, that's no longer true. So if Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera, and Google are adopting something and you're an Apple customer, you're probably going to get screwed by Steve Jobs. Bend over and prey he uses lube this time.