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Apple's Steve Jobs worried about WebM's patents, features

updated 06:40 pm EDT, Thu May 20, 2010

Jobs believes WebM may violate patents

Apple chief Steve Jobs signaled his own doubts about using the new WebM format for HTML5 video. When asked about his thoughts by UK developer Kris Bloe, Jobs simply posted a link to a recent teardown of WebM that challenged not just its features but its legality. WebM's VP8 video codec bears a strong resemblance to H.264 and may violate multiple patents.

The look by a key x264 developer also pointed out that, without any significant differences from H.264's Baseline Profile, there was no reason for many companies to use WebM over H.264, especially not if they wanted higher quality video that isn't an option with the newer Google-, Mozilla- and Opera-backed standard.

That Jobs would object to WebM had been expected partly due to its roots at Google, but he has previously cautioned that risks surrounding the patents were his primary concern, as he mentioned in an answer regarding Ogg Theora. Even if Apple had no objections to using either Theora or WebM itself, other members of the MPEG-LA group could claim patent infringement and force a change of format. H.264 requires software royalties but is relatively free from potential lawsuits as a result.

Google is still expected to support H.264 in its HTML5 implementations, but it plans to add WebM to all of its core sites and software, including Android's future Gingerbread update. [via Register]

by MacNN Staff



  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Plus, if Apple gets sued by MPEG-LA, that would put them on both ends of the lawsuit. As a member of MPEG-LA, Apple has a vested interest in maintaining their stranglehold on video codec licensing.

  1. dashiel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    webm changes nothing

    the codec "war" will be won or lost on mobile device front. battery life reigns supreme and without dedicated hardware decoding for vp8 it will not appear in handsets. h.264 already has a lead of hundreds of millions of devices, if and when hardware acceleration appears for phones/tablets that number will be larger and it's highly unlikely hardware developers will include vp8 at the expense of h.264 acceleration. for webm the best case scenario is including both, worst case h.264 only.

    the only thing webm changes is which codec gets chosen for native html5 video for firefox and opera.

  1. tfmeehan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Weasel brain...

    Why, the heck, would Apple get sued? They didn't create WebM nor do they intend to use it. What he said was even if he didn't object to it's existence other members of MPEG-LA could sue the creators of WebM. Not Apple.

    I realize you have this obsessive and consuming hatred of Apple and Jobs but you could at least TRY understanding what you read.

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Weasel brain...

    I'll type slowly, using small words, so I don't confuse you. The title of this story implies that Jobs is worried about patents. The reason for that is if Apple implements WebM in Safari, they could theoretically get sued, most likely by the MPEG-LA, for patent infringement. This would be humorous, because Apple is a member of the MPEG-LA.

    And you're mistaking consuming hatred for realism. I own AAPL stock, and a bunch of their products, so obviously, I don't hate Apple. Can't say I'm a big fan of MPEG or software patents, however.

  1. PRoth

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I read this story, and was reminded of a teacher I had in college when I took Journalism. He was your stereotypical hard-a**, no nonsense American grinder. He was a writer and editor at the New York Times for a number of years, I think... He was ruthless and merciless, and by God, so funny. He would read aloud some of the stories that were submitted as an example of what NOT to do. Then he would hand the marked-up stories back to the people that wrote them... reducing some to tears. This story, as written, should make the writer cry.

  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    H.264 is a patent risk

    Mpeg-la itself may violate patents.... It doesn't have At&t's patents.... Mpeg-la does not indemnify users. Take Jobs position as entirely self serving.

    Either they state a patent number....or they are just bluffing. Scare has done their homework..... With that said Apple gets sued, Microsoft is defending up to 50 lawsuits at any given time...and google will be sued as well....that's just life in IT

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