Ian Betteridge on Google’s ‘Openness’

Ian Betteridge:

Some of their efforts are extremely valuable: for example, while I think WebM is crapola, it’s valuable to have a freely-licensable codec that will (hopefully) be widely supported. I doubt that MPEG-LA would have been as generous with the terms for H.264 as they are currently had Google not waved the big stick. And that’s an area where there’s little direct revenue implication for Google.

Agreed, up to the last sentence. Google, as the owner of YouTube, must serve more H.264 video than any other entity on the planet. More generous licensing terms from MPEG-LA surely must have a “direct revenue implication” for Google.

And that’s the issue: Having invoked the magic “open” word, you’re a hostage to fortune. Any time that the rational decision is “don’t be open” (as it is, arguably, with Honeycomb’s source) sneering naysayers like me will be on your case, whacking you over the head.

Don’t forget the hypocrisy though. It was exactly the issue of the openness of Android’s source code that Andy Rubin called the “definition of open”.

Monday, 18 July 2011