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- Thanks for the insight... I wasn't aware Motorola held a patent for video codecs,
I too believe that the acquisition was all about the patents, though, they now have a hardware arm, so to speak, which needs to be addressed in one way or another...
Do you think there is enough there for Googorola to "unleash the cracken"?May 19, 2012
- the H.264 codec is not owned by a single entity, nor is it comprised by a single patent.
the H.264 codec has over 2,600 patents involved in it. Motorola have some patents, other companies have many more patents that make up the codec.
this is the problem.
not a single owner, and not a single unified agreement with all the micro-owners on what to do and how to use the codec.May 20, 2012
- an additional predictions / insight?May 20, 2012
- thanks for the clarification... Do you see this as a benefit to Google or is this codec / patent unimportant?May 20, 2012
basically the codec is ubiquitous, it's this generation's DivX/Xvid (notice everything is encoded with H.264 these days?), and those older codecs are no longer used as much.
One way of looking at it all is taking the perspective of the problem is one of two halves:
1) the people that want H.264 so much that they want it over any other codec for various reasons.
reasons such as A) they are companies that have a vested interest in it's survival and usage, and B) people that don't know any better and think that it's "free" and the "best" codec and are either unwilling or unable to appreciate the "cost" of the codec.
2) the people that want the internet to continue to be a free and open technology that uses open standards. This means that nobody "owns" any part of the underlying technology used in what we think of as "the interwebs". nobody should own any part of the HTML-spec, none at all. this is why some companies, organizations, and other people are fighting for open standards to be part of the <VIDEO> tag in the next version of the internet's basic language that will last the next decade or so before the next evolutionary step : HTML5
H.264 is currently "owned" and run by MPEG-LA (look them up) and the many thousands of patents involved in making H.264 such a good video codec, are very much owned by dozens of companies, including some patents owned by Motorola, Apple, Microsoft, etc. very big companies indeed.
People and Companies like Google, Mozilla, etc want the internet to remain as free as possible, with no restrictions on the technology used regardless of which computing device or software you use to access it, be it content creation or consumption.
They want to make sure we don't turn into a 'Read-only culture' : http://www.ted.com/talks/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity.html
H.264 may begin to fragment the internet. there is already a history of companies that would love to do this by owning different parts of the technology everyone uses to enjoy their internet-enabled content (and everything IS going digital and internet-based, as well as wireless, it's inevitable and already happening).
In the early days of the Internet, Microsoft and Telstar tried a venture to put a bunch of satellites into space to try and control the very internet connection, or "pipe" we would all use for our content and communication. Microsoft also tried the software route with their pushing of Internet Explorer at the expense of alternatives like Netscape's 'Navigator'.
This internet's 'freedom from ownership' has been under attack constantly, from companies trying to control the hardware, the software, the API's, etc right down to plugins, browsers, and even the very fabric of the HTML spec itself.
Today we have a video codec that is used ubiquitously enough that it may as well be considered a standard, like Adobe's Flash is/was, and yet it carries a very terrifying possibility for those that have a little understanding of the codec's history and current 'owners'.
H.264 is used in everything from smartphones, tablets, digital cameras, webcams, Operating systems, set-top-boxes (basically anything broadcast as 'TV'), video editing software, content creation, and many other areas....but it's not free. this is why X.264 was created.
Every time you buy a hardware device or piece of software using H.264, that company has either agreed to use the codec in 'non commercial' means, or that company has paid a license to the MPEG-LA consortium.
all the smartphone, camera, tablet, etc companies have to pay this license, and if you look at the fine print on your digital SLR camera that you paid thousands for, you should find details describing how the video you shoot with your own camera, can NOT be used for commercial purposes under the current license the hardware maker included with the device.
Look for yourself: http://www.osnews.com/story/23236/Why_Our_Civilization_s_Video_Art_and_Culture_is_Threatened_by_the_MPEG-LA
it's impossible to enforce in most circumstances, but it's there, and it's trying to get into the very language the internet is created with.
this is why companies like Google and Mozilla are invested in making sure the internet remains a free and 'owner-free' entity for all to enjoy and live by.
Google bought ON2's technology and pretty much released it to the world under an open license to use and expand. the picture-format of 'Web-M' is also based on ON2's codec, and is an attempt to replace the aging JPEG as the standard for the internet's still-image format.
This brings us to the divide in people that want/don't want H.264 as the standard codec for the HTML5-spec video tag.
Some people want it because they either have investments into the codec, or they simply like the fact it's already ubiquitous and has great quality. many people are unwilling to compromise the negligible quality difference that alternatives use, even though given the same investment of time and development those difference would be irrelevant.
The other group of people realise that quality is not the priority of a 'free and open internet', 'features' are.
the ability to use a free and open codec as part of the HTML-spec is much more valuable to the communications medium we call 'The Internet'.
Having temporary and slight better quality is not a substitute for freedom to evolve.
You only have to look at the recent legal battle over Oracles and Google's use of certain code to realise what can happen to innovation once somebody 'owns' a key technology.
the MPEG-LA consortium have changed their attitude in public, announcing that the codec is 'free to use' until 2016, but what then ? this still isn't free to use commercially.
the internet isn't going to get a new revision of the HTML-spec so soon, that would be HTML6. So we need something a little more future-proof and more freedom than 'you can use it for non-commercial purposes for the next 4 years, well talk more after that'.
If you were driving a car, would you drive your investment into an area that only guarantees limited freedoms for the next 4 years, and possible NONE after that?
Hence the traffic-jam in the development of the VIDEO-tag for HTML5.and don't even start the discussion for the AUDIO-tag :(
I believe Google benefited from the patents as a safety-net, but more importantly i believe they wanted Motorola's mobility division for it's non-mobile value. Value that translates neatly into future expansion for Google's television and cable aspirations.
Owning a mobile company is not what google wants. having every hardware running the same software as smartphones and tablets, PC's & laptops (Chrome-books are a tester), Enterprise and government, educational institutions, etc is much more valuable.
Google doesn't make hardware, it makes the software and platforms that other people put into hardware. Google has no need for a mobile phone maker, and this is why i believe Google will likely spin-off Motorola's mobile arm and keep the rest.
Google wants it's ecosystem everywhere, it's already in smartphones, so what possible benefit would Google have by keeping Motorola's smartphone arm?
patents are valuable, ubiquity is even more valuable.
for more reading on the H.264 codec, and it's legalities for the present and possible future, hit the following links:
The more informed people are, the more informed decisions we can make about what technologies and companies we support.
It can make the difference between compromising your current lifestyle, and making a better life for your future.
Being responsible about your choices today makes you more responsible for the world you live in the future, so make the best choice according to the future you desire.May 20, 2012
- I'm mostly with. Still not quite sure on the handset spinoff but definitely believe they will use them to push GoogleTV. Who knows they might even railroad it into standard boxes for cable providers if possible.May 20, 2012