Editor's Note: Eight is Enough
When Dan Rayburn used one of his Business of Video (http://blog.streamingmedia.com) posts to chime in on the Apple-Adobe "feud," roundly and rightfully criticizing Steve Jobs for distorting the facts about Flash in specific and online video in general, the response from the Apple faithful was so vociferous and downright nasty that he couldn't help but write another blog post titled "Why Is It That the Moment You Blog About Apple, People Lose Their Minds?"
I can't imagine Dan was particularly surprised by the nasty comments; the most extreme members of the Apple cult rival Philadelphia Eagles fans in both their fanaticism and their appreciation of the nuances of constructive criticism and witty repartee. You'll note that Adobe doesn't inspire the same sort of blind devotion, in part because its execs neither possess a messiah complex nor egg their customers on by taking cheap shots at competitors in the press. I put "feud" in quotes earlier because it takes two to have one; there are no Adobe Hatfields to Apple's McCoys.
Of course, negative feedback is part and parcel of being a blogger or journalist. The good ones welcome constructive criticism and respond to it openly; most of us can even laugh at ourselves when we're the targets of a particularly well-phrased put-down. But there are certain subjects that are guaranteed to bring the crazies out of the woodwork, and within the tech world, Apple is certainly at the top of that list.
Until recently, at least within the online video subset of that world, On2 investors were a close second. Every time we ran an article about the Google/On2 deal on StreamingMedia.com, we could count on a steady stream of comments-some defensive, some irrational, some desperate-from readers who were clearly On2 investors. (How'd we know that? Because contributing editor Tim Siglin realized that they used the same email addresses and usernames that they employed on the Yahoo! Finance message boards.)
Now that Google has completed the On2 acquisition and open sourced the VP8 codec, those folks have stopped sharing their wisdom with us. They've been replaced, though, by the H.264 fan boys, who came out in force to criticize Jan Ozer's first-look comparison of VP8 and H.264. Some of their criticisms were valid, and Jan acknowledged that. But of the more than 50 comments we received on the article, at least a dozen were unprintable because of profanity or because the extent of their criticism went no further than "this is horrible."
Jan reported that he's received similar numbers and types of content when he's written about H.264 in the past, mainly from devotees of the x264 codec. One of those devotees (who didn't respond to Jan's article) is Jason Garrett-Glaser, who wrote an in-depth comparison of VP8 and H.264 on his blog at http://x264dev.multimedia.cx. He came to different conclusions than did Jan-he found VP8 considerably worse in most categories, while Jan's take was that, on first analysis, videos encoded with both VP8 and H.264's Baseline Profile would be acceptable to most users.
There are sure to be more tests, and I'm sure Jan's will be among them. But with Google pushing it, if VP8 is good enough for most of the world, then that's the only thing that matters.