MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - JANUARY 21: A sign is posted outside of the Google headquarters January 21, 2010 in Mountain View, California. Google will report fouth quarter earnings today. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The H.264 codec, is a video file that is widely used by both Apple and Microsoft, and is seen as an alternative to Flash (Apple eschews it totally for its vulnerabilities.) It's also a patented technology, some of which is owned by Google's competitors Apple and Microsoft, which charges fees for its use.
Google now wants to use WebM or Theora, "high quality" open-source alternatives, product manager Mike Jazayeri wrote on Google's Chromium blog -- or ones without the fees. Of course, Chrome only has 10 percent of browser marketshare, so how big a deal is this?
Matt Rosoff argues that it's really not about the fees, which are about $5 million a year -- chicken feed for Google -- but about dominance. By Google allowing the H.264 codec, it's only empowering its competitors. By promoting open source, Google can perhaps influence web designers coding in HTML5 not to use the patented codec -- and thus weaken its competition.
Is Google capable of such evil genius? I guess we will have to wait and see.