Apple CEO Steve Jobs apparently lacks faith in Google's newly announced VP8 WebM video codec, reportedly citing a developer blog post that condemns the codec as slow, buggy and at risk for patent violations. Google is backing the VP8 WebM codec for HTML5 video, using the high-profile platform of the Google I/O developer conference to tout the software's open-source bona fides.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs apparently hinted in
an e-mail message that he believes Google's VP8 WebM video codec is slow, buggy
and at risk for patent violations. That e-mail was a response to one sent by a
software engineer, asking, "What did you make of the recent VP8
During the Google I/O developer conference, Google said it will push the now
apparently open-source VP8 WebM codec for HTML5 video. Originally developed by On2 Technologies, acquired
in February, VP8 is touted by some as an efficient way to
compress Web video.
According to a
May 20 article in The Register,
which posted screen captures of the
exchange, Jobs-or someone using his Apple e-mail account-responded to the
engineer's question with a link to a blog, Diary of an x264 Developer,
which suggests the VP8 codec has issues.
"Overall, VP8 appears to be significantly weaker than H.264
compression-wise," that blog's author, Jason Garrett-Glaser, a primary
x264 developer and a third-year student at Harvey
said in a May 19 post. "The primary weaknesses mentioned above are the
lack of proper adaptive quantization, lack of B-frames, lack of an 8x8
transform and a nonadaptive loop filter."
The post also pointed out a potential patent issue. "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 encoder,'" Garrett-Glaser wrote. "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."
During a May 18 keynote address during the Google I/O developer conference,
Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management at Google, said, "HTML5
is everywhere. The question is: How do we make use of that?"
Google's apparent answer is to back the VP8 codec. Adobe and Microsoft have
also indicated that they will support the format; in the latter's case, the
user will need to install a VP8 codec on Windows in order for Internet Explorer
9 to support playback of VP8 video. Additionally, Google, Opera Software,
Adobe, Brightcove and other companies have established the WebM Project, which
touts itself as "dedicated to developing a high-quality, open video format
for the Web that is freely available to everyone."
Pichai told the audience that Google would open-source VP8 under "a
completely open-source license."
Further developments will show whether Google's vision of an open-source VP8
WebM codec will mesh well with reality. Whether or not the situation descends
into a patent-infringement battle, though, one thing is apparent: The codec
likely won't have a supporter in Steve Jobs.