Almost three years after Google released its WebM video encoding technology as a “free” and open alternative to the existing H.264 backed by Apple and others, it has admitted its position was wrong and that it would pay to license the patents WebM infringes.
As I wrote a while back in Hi! We’re Google and we’re pretty not evil, “Open” has very little to do with anything they do. What they’re really doing most of the time is trying to gain control of the web for themselves and their products.
And WebM was just that, a blatant attempt to take control over internet video streaming after Apple managed to dislodge Adobe Flash and move the world towards the H.264 standard.
If Google really cared about being so “open”, they’d open up a nontrivial part of their business that hasn’t already been commoditized, like Google Search or Gmail or Google Maps or their advertising platform.
But they don’t. That’s their software and their core platforms, with all of their proprietary concepts and ideas. To make it open would be to let just anyone use it however they wanted. I mean, people could use it to compete with them.
Google’s totally dedicated to the concept of free and open software. Just as long as it suits their purposes.
And “open” plays well, for a marketing narrative.
But it’s a marketing narrative, nonetheless.