Rock & A Hard Place: Will Google Dropping H.264 Lead To Antitrust Questions?
from the of-course-it-will dept
There was a lot of attention paid to the news that Google was going to drop H.264 support for Chrome. The reasoning makes perfect sense. H.264 is a proprietary standard, run by MPEG-LA, a group that has been quite aggressive at times on the patent front, and which could eventually turn around and charge websites for using it (right now it charges for hardware, but lets websites use it royalty free, and has promised to keep it that way until at least 2015). Getting locked into proprietary standards is bad, so getting away from those standards is good. I’m all for it, especially given MPEG-LA’s views on patents. However, I wonder how long it will be until someone claims that this move shows that Google is violating antitrust laws. After all, part of doing this is to push its own WebM format forward.
Of course, this demonstrates the difficult position that Google is put in on this subject. Lots of folks keep trying to play gotcha with Google pushing its own solutions. That’s what some of the various antitrust investigations have been about. But when pushing its own solutions means getting away from proprietary, locked down standards, that seems like it can only be a good thing for consumers. And, really, shouldn’t the determination of any sort of antitrust argument be about the impact on the overall market?