After reading an astounding amount of comments, on this post, as well as the previous one, I did not read them all, many were repeats of the same vein, however I did read many of them. I then reread the two post, trying to understand the cost to all this, and what would possibly be the real cost to the user.
I am a field service engineer, I deal mostly with hardware, and I am not at all very pleased with the software that is used most often in the commercial sector, as it is most often some form of Windows OS driven software. I completely support Google, and my entire operation is either based in Google or in Linux (or other open source software). As a content user not a content generator, other than a weekly broadcast I do for readers of my blog, I do not support anything but open source, and that will continue. I do use Android devices, and I understand that they support H.264, today, but that is today.
Today, and yesterday are not innovation. I know that there are a lot of content managers out there that are crying over this as they feel they will have to change their content, but the truth is they will not, as what they have created is yesterday, not tomorrow. What will come of this is that the open standard will be supported by a force that has yet to be fully realized. I predicted the death of Microsoft, and although it has not come to pass, they are hanging on by a thread yet, it will come to pass, provided they do not embrace the open culture. The web is not for the old or the timid, it is for the young and bold, and that will bare out in the coming years. Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s I was an Apple Evangelist, card carrying member, but those days have gone, and Apple has survived on straddling the open and proprietary mine fields. The battle between Apple and Google is mostly in the minds of users, as both companies are trying to find the same user base, but they will both do so most likely through the same direction, adopting open standards. Apple will not lose to Google, and Google will not lose to Apple, as they are both possible winners, and there are other possible players that have yet to come.
The adoption of the open standard is only a step in the right direction, and even in the short term it will bear out to be a smarter decision on Google’s part. The fact is that in the long term, this would be the decision that they would have to make, as the open format will be adopted, and the hardware will come. It will still not be used in the commercial world. I work on Cisco switches that use Linux and yet require the user to have Windows OS to port into them (short of using putty, which most users have never heard of) through their browser.
As the cloud becomes the source of users experience, and their hardware becomes open, including the embedded chips, this decision will be one of yea that was then and this is now, just as right now it seems ridiculous, it will not be in the years that come. When we are no longer dependant on OS, but only have a browser interface, or even less, and our hardware soon becomes part of the very buildings, cars, and appliances, rather than devices that we purchase exclusively for the use of Internet, open source will be the only option, because the proprietary options will have been degraded by their own inability to function outside their own platforms. Most of the people that I read here are talking from their own personal perspective, from a perspective of what it means to me today. Content creators are saying they won’t regenerate their content for a different codec, but they will, or they will fade to nothing like proprietary companies will also.
In my work I provide the answers to users all day, every day, on what they need to do to use their hardware, they do not know what software is. They want to know how to use their hardware. This will not affect users, maybe it will some, but not most users I interact with, they do not know what a codec is, what a standard is, what an OS is for that matter. If I ask them what Operating Software they are using, they may tell me Windows, but most of them would answer Dell, or HP, because they do not know what an OS is. By the way, the others that didn’t tell me their brand of PC or device (Droid, iPhone, etc.), they would tell me Firefox, IE, or some other browser, as that is what they use, they do not use their OS. In the very near future, for you software and content creators out there near future is the next two years, this will be a moot point. Users will get their content as they get it, if they can’t get it on their chosen devices, well then they will not care enough about that content to care what happens. Most of you keep saying that Google does not care about uses, well you would be completely wrong there, they care only about users. If you are thinking they are not thinking about users that create content, well to some degree yes they are handing the developers a bit of a ball here, and those developers will adapt or they will cease to be relevant. Developers are not users, the people who I work with are users, they use software but have no idea what flash is (it is something they have to download every once in a while to make their computer work), or what a codec is, just another thing that they have to download, or what any of this stuff is, they only know what works and what doesn’t. When WebM standard becomes the standard they will use it, and if their device does not accept it, they will buy on that does, not because Google said so, but because it is what works. What these content developers are not looking at is that all those companies that paid you to encode their video content in H.264 the last couple of years, well they will pay you to encode it in WebM as well, because they want users, not techs, techs don’t matter, they want consumers. Please remember that you may be a developer, but if you have no audience you have no revenue model. Before you blame Google, look to the real cause of your distress, your fear that you will be forgotten because you didn’t want to move on with the rest of your potential users.