The 2010 Google I/O Developer Conference saw Google's moves in the consumer space, away from its Internet search stronghold.

Android had always been gaining momentum, and the good reception that was accorded to Froyo was always on the cards. We will cover Froyo in a separate article after evaluating it when it is pushed to our Nexus Ones.

With its VP8 open sourcing, Google has managed to open up a can of worms. It is a great thing for consumers in the short run. In the longer term, we feel it wouldn't be of any benefit to consumers to have both VP8 and H264 codecs for different applications.

Google TV, as a software platform, is a laudable initiative. We hope it will get open sourced soon, as an Android port on the x86 platform has innumerable possibilities. On the hardware side, as a dedicated set-top box, things don't look that rosy. Fortunately, Google doesn't have much to lose in that perspective, as long as Google TV manages to reach the television in some form or the other. In this scenario, the open sourcing would create ports for the HTPC. Google would also do well to tie up with other TV manufacturers and TV programming providers (such as Comcast / DirecTV) to bring Google TV on their sets and STBs.

Google TV: Will it Succeed?
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  • EmmetBrown - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    > people analyzed the licensing terms for VP8 and realized that
    > Google offers no patent indemnification for potential users

    This is no different than what the MPEG-LA does (and you also hve to pay a lot here):
    http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/AVC/Pages/FAQ....
    Q: Are all AVC essential patents included?
    A: No assurance is or can be made that the License includes every essential patent.
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    Thanks for quoting the MPEG-LA FAQ here.

    The contrast is that MPEG-LA will endeavour to bring the AVC patent in question into the patent pool (Otherwise, the holding company might be in trouble while utilizing the other patents in their H264 implementation). Google is not proposing to create a patent pool, and even if it were to, it is unlikely that other patent holders would like to give away their tech for free.

    Also, while MPEG-LA doesn't offer patent indemnification, H264 tech has been around for quite some time now, and there are no patents that I am aware of for H264, which is outside the MPEG-LA patent pool.
    Reply
  • EmmetBrown - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    Note that many speculated that H.264 may infringe some VP8 patents (VP8 was derived from previous On2 codecs, the VP8 source code also include comments dating from 2004, before H.264 was finalized) that Google could use to counter attack eventual litigation from MPEG-LA. Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    Very much possible! That is why MPEG-LA wants to create a patent pool for VP8, and hasn't talked about suing Google yet.

    The lawyers are going to have a field day with this, definitely.

    As I said in the post, all is well if MPEG-LA is forced to change its licensing terms. The important thing is for Google to not continue to harp on VP8 if H264's licensing terms are fixed to the satisfaction of the open source community.
    Reply
  • trochevs - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    "if H264's licensing terms are fixed to the satisfaction of the open source community. "

    This never going to happen until Steve Ballmer is CEO of MS. MS is holding the most of the patents for H.264. Open source software is threatening the core of MS business model and MS will do what ever possible to stop open source advances.

    Also even if MPEG-LA allow unlicensed decoding of H.264, it does not change nothing in regards of the future of the Internet. Internet needs both encoder and decoder free of restrictions of any kind. We are not going to see the real potentials of the Web Video until somebody has control on video production.

    So until we abolish software patents or MPEG-LA releases the H.264 to the public domain we need VP8 and it doesn't really count if doesn't provide better quality as long it is good enough. Remember in 1997 the web was looking horrible compared to AOL. Never the less the open web is here and AOL network is gone.
    Reply
  • EmmetBrown - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    > Open source enthusiasts clamored for technology which could
    > stand up to the mighty H264 in terms of technical prowess,
    > particularly considering the fact that Theora compared very
    > poorly with it.

    That's not really true, at least for the H.264 implementations YouTube is using:
    http://people.xiph.org/~greg/video/ytcompare/compa...
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    I remember reading that YouTube uses a variant of x264. The key here is scope for future improvements at the same bitrate. If YouTube were to update its variant to the current x264 version, the quality could be much better. I agree that there has been a lot of FUD around open source codecs, but we have to remember that open source codec development always has to be careful about treading on patents, and inevitably, in the bigger picture, the quality suffers.

    Remember that it is not only YouTube which will adopt WebM / VP8 if Google has its way. If websites like Vimeo also go the same route, the quality of HD video on the net is likely to be worse than what it would be if H264 were to be the standard.
    Reply
  • EmmetBrown - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    > The introduction of VP8 may also lead to a demand from
    > consumers that their camcorders and PVRs record video in this
    > format. While companies are unlikely to yield in to this (and
    > Google itself wants to use this for Internet videos only)

    That's not really true, look here:
    http://www.webmproject.org/about/supporters/

    also other developers are starting independent hardware implementations:
    https://groups.google.com/a/webmproject.org/group/...
    Reply
  • ganeshts - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    I don't think any of the listed hardware companies do consumer cameras or camcorders.

    The Google Group link also suggests decode only.

    Cameras and Camcorders do 'encoding', which is converting raw sensor data into video using some codec. Why would a company risk delivering not so good looking video on the HDTV with VP8, when they could create better looking videos at the same bit rate with H264 (for which so much silicon is already available and tried and tested)?

    As I have mentioned in the article, even Google agrees that this codec is meant for web use only.
    Reply
  • EmmetBrown - Friday, May 28, 2010 - link

    > Also glaring is the absence of any technical rebuttals to Jason's
    > analysis (at least that we are aware of) from any Google
    > engineers or other proponents of VP8

    There are some comments about this from VP8 developers on webm blog:
    http://webmproject.blogspot.com/
    Reply

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