Well, thank the heavens. It finally happened. Google saved the web.

The Register reports that Google has released the VP8 video codec which it gained last year through its $124M acquisition of web video business, On2.

On2 have been producing video codecs for years. It open sourced VP3 around 2003, if memory serves, which then became the basis for the Theora codec; the preferred choice of the open source community. Theora is a royalty- and patent-free codec that many open source advocates – myself included – have promoted the use of due to its free nature (free as in freedom… but that’s another issue).

However, as Steve Jobs recently hinted that a patent pools was being established to destroy Theora (and ultimately line his pockets further), Google have done just what Microsoft and Apple probably feared. Pulled the rug out.

So, all YouTube video will be re-encoded to use VP8 rather than H.264 (the proprietary codec supported by Apple and Microsoft), and browser builders Mozilla and Opera have already come out in support of it. As has Adobe. And, of course, Chrome will support it too.

And VP8, being open source and royalty-free, can also be supported by Microsoft and Apple. All source code and documentation is available on line, so there really is no excuse not to support it.

Well Apple-lovers, you sure do choose interesting products. Like the iPod; a “revolutionary” portable audio player, being probably the first to have a non-replaceable battery. I might be wrong, having done no research on the subject, but this was enough to turn me off. Let alone the insistence of using iTunes.

Or the iPad; the computer-but-not-a-computer consumer device that let’s you do anything you want with your media.  So long as it is on Apple’s terms.  I don’t get why someone as apparently intellectual as Stephen Fry gets so excited about it. Yes, it’s so exciting, in fact, that I’d go immediately to iPad.com and check it out!

The iPad. I mean, for goodness sake, it’s a laptop without a keyboard, but with potentially harmful restrictions, a proprietary operating system and about as much appeal as a colonoscopy. According to Fry, it also has no “multitasking, still no Adobe Flash. No camera, no GPS”. But it does have a touch-screen and 3D desktop effects… Perhaps that’s why the Free Software Foundation dropped “Freedom” Fry’s video from their homepage: who’d want to appear as hypocritical as that?

And then there’s the iPhone. This is the biggy. Apple are using typical Microsoft-like tactics here.  Make an “irresistable” upgrade, probably for free or very cheap, and subtly attach some conditions to it. This time, as exposed in Giorgio Sironi’s blog post, The Apple of Sin, the condition is that you must only develop iPhone applications in languages prescribed to you by Apple.

The reasons, given by Giorgio, are pretty clear: Apple want to kill any chance of Flash appearing on the iPhone, else it might be inconsistent with the new iPad policy.

So, Mac users, be aware that your choice of platform may well come to haunt you in a year or two, when Apple extends this anti-Flash policy to OS X.  There is one nice aspect of this, though: Apple might just force Adobe to open-source Flash.  Then will follow a review-and-embrace process, where Flash gains recognition as an open standard.

Then we’ll see if Apple is embracing open standards as it “seems” to be with its current policies.  If not, then you’ll get more choice of hardware and software if you choose Windows. And even more if you opt for Linux and, not only would that be cheaper, you would also retain your right to choose what you do with it.

Sorry about that. 😉

Apple’s attempt to sell me an iPad
(the image has now been deleted, but depicted Apple’s QuickTime-only web site with the plugin not working – or failing-over nicely, in my browser)

So, I can’t quite work out why I might want or need an iPad. Amusingly, a friend of mine posted a link on Facebook to Apple’s “TV” adverts on its website.

What I saw was the image, opposite.

Hmm, strange. Is this product only for people who already use Windows and/or a Mac? Being unable to install QuickTime (which is for a “PC” or Mac only) means I am unable to view this product. Apple are unable to do the most basic thing with sales and actually demonstrate to me why this product is good.

Which then led me to think, perhaps it isn’t.