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E-mailing a question to Steve Jobs is becoming a bit like shaking a magic eight-ball -- you’ll frequently get an answer, but it’s bound to be short & sweet. On the subject of Google’s WebM announcement this week, Jobs simply pointed one inquiring mind to a URL that did the talking for him.
The Register has all the details on the latest missive to Steve Jobs, with software developer Kris Bloe inquiring picking the Apple CEO’s brain regarding Google’s “recent VP8 announcement” -- specifically, that the search giant is using the video codec in their new open-source web format called WebM. Jobs answered in his usual short way, but this time with a URL that points to a blog post by a graphics developer who calls out VP8’s shortcomings when compared to the more popular H.264.
The blog, penned by third-year college student Jason Garrett-Glaser, claims that the VP8 codec which Google purchased and is now using for WebM “appears to be significantly weaker” for compression and actually takes longer to decode than H.264, the patented codec which Apple has been using for years, both with its iTunes movies, TV shows and music videos as well as with HTML5 in the Safari browser.
Garrett-Glaser should know: He works on the open-source x264 project, a free software library for encoding H.264 video. He calls VP8 “not ready for primetime,” specifically citing the codec as “a mess.” The student also feels that Google won’t be able to improve the VP8 spec too much. And while Google is touting WebM as open and royalty-free, many suspect that won’t be the case for very long.
“With regard to patents,” Garrett-Glaser concludes, “VP8 copies way too much from H.264 for anyone sane to be comfortable with it, no matter whose word is behind the claim of being patent-free.” Of course, for their part, Google is “very confident” in their technology.
Although it appears that Jobs is saying no to Google’s WebM format based on his reply, Apple Inc. has yet to officially comment on the announcement, which came at the annual Google I/O developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.