eWEEK spoke to Gartner analyst Andrew Frank, who blogged about the On2 buy here Aug. 5. Frank said he believes the purchase shows Google's interest in leveraging our living rooms for Web services. Think about the targeted advertising possibilities that come with Android set-top boxes and Chrome OS-based televisions.
Frank said he believes Google is trying to embed itself more deeply in the online video space, beyond just the YouTube entry point. Adobe's Flash, which leverages On2's VP6 codec but is moving to the MPEG H.264 format, powers the bulk of online video, while Sun Microsystems' JavaFX platform is embedded in the infrastructure of most standard advanced television platforms.
Google can leverage the On2 assets against H.264 to make sure video compression remains competitive and nonexclusive.
"It may chose to open-source the technology to achieve these goals, as has been its pattern with other core technologies, but in any case they can use the acquisition to assure [that] the quality and economics of online streaming continue to improve," Frank wrote in his blog post.
Frank further said he believes that Google needs On2 to ensure that the public Web is piped in high definition without cable, satellite or IPTV providers charging for quality of service or limiting video access to screens.
"For over-the-top video to really work at a scalable level, you really need pretty good compression to get the quality," Frank told eWEEK. "This would allow Google, for example, to deliver 'out-of-band' advertising options to broadband-connected set-tops that could be targeted using Google technology."
The wildest theory about how Google will leverage On2 comes from eWEEK reader Gaetano Marano, who suggested that the On2 codecs will be used in a secret Google gaming console the company is building to challenge the Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii.
Of course, that is wild conjecture, but so is everything at this point because Google has declined to discuss its plans for On2.
What do you think Google will do with On2? Will it be for a gaming platform?