Nokia Uses Patents To Block Google's WebM Web Video

It's an open-and-shut case, says Nokia: Google's WebM isn't "open."

Google, apparently dissatisfied with the now-ubiquitous and Flash-killing H.264 video codec, has been pushing its own, allegedly more open, WebM video system which relies on the VP8 video codec.

But Nokia has moved to block Google's plans because it says VP8 isn't a real open-source system and that it's actually "proprietary" tech owned by Google. Nokia also claims Google is "attempting to force the adoption of its proprietary technology" via WebM.

To counteract Google, Nokia is now saying VP8 infringes on its own patented IP and plans to withhold licenses from Google.

Google, of course, owns YouTube—the world's most visited video website. Having YouTube and other web video running on Google's own video code, even if that code is supposedly "open," would only place Google in a more commanding position in the online video market.

YouTube previously ran on Flash technology from Adobe, a proprietary standard that was largely stamped out and replaced by H.264, thanks to Apple's cofounder Steve Jobs.

[Image: Flickr user thms]

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  • David Majer

    Let's not forget about h.265 which is around the corner, does WebM have an equivalent?

  • hhvdblom

    Yes, h.265 is the way to go, thats should be really open. In the h.265  standard everybody is invited, so Google can play its part in it. Nokia is NOT doing dirty work for Microsoft. Nokia is protecting Windows Phone. The future of SmartPhones is not bigger Hardware but Value added Software. Nokia Drive is such great software. Google wants this Unique position to. What does this mean? That Windows Phones should not able to use ANY of Googles software. The Proof of this is already delivered by Google itself because they Blocked YouTube already and Maps for use on Windows Phone. They even had a cleanup so Mail could not be synced anymore to Windows Phone. So the real reason is Google forced Nokia to do this. Google is starting to become Evil and not the Nokia/Microsoft combination.

  • Boz Bundalo

    Kit, let's make something clear if you are going to report on this stuff.

    Flash is NOT stamped out by H.264. Flash actually supports multiple codecs and thus is still being used by 90% of the video on the web. It is it's own AS3 language and player that allows multiple codecs to play such as H.264, VP8, Sorenson codec etc..

    Second, YouTube has not "switched" to something other than Flash and probably won't do it in a long time because Flash video that is run on YouTube allows Google to monetize it's YouTube infrastructure. HTML5/h.264 only YouTube parts are still not covering all of YouTube and are basically "experimental" still and work on mobile for the most part (on desktop if you have Flash Player it will choose it by default) because HTML5 video only doesn't allow them to integrate advertising and other things in a way Flash does. Same goes for every other big video CDN and one of the major reasons (including DRM) why Hulu and others haven't switched. 

    They all use H.264 videos (since Flash supports it fine) because hardware today decodes h.264 internally and is much more performant, it doesn't really have anything to do with Flash itself.

    Second, Nokia is really doing dirty work for Microsoft here. WebM is completely open.. Google open sourced it when they bought it from On2 Technologies. 

    Internet adopting WebM is better for everyone. Microsoft, Apple and others really want to kill WebM for a single reason. Money. H.264 has limited royalty free usage that will eventually expire and everyone will have to pay MPEG LA fees. This is why Mozilla didn't want to adopt h.264 as well. It's because they know about this.

    So let's not pretend Google is someone bad here. They bought and gave the web completely open sourced video codec that is on par quality wise with h.264 but needs support from hardware vendors in getting proper hardware acceleration. 

    Nokia is basically playing Microsoft's bidding here because Microsoft can't be seen as someone who is now against open source after they have been pushing HTML5 and trumpeting to everyone how they respect standards and open web. 

    It's really sickening. WebM is the right way to go about it, h.264 is not even if it's temporarily in a better position and has better support.