literally going to render hundreds of billions of dollars worth of tablets, smartphones, set-top boxes, etc. with H.264 hardware support obsolete.
Oh come on, that's an incredibly silly argument. Those tablets will still be able to play H.264, even in the web with a plugin, it just won't be usable with video, which means that you won't have to pay royalties to support HTML5, and that's great, isn't it?. The idea itself is also pretty bonkers. Why should those "millions" of tablets be immune to obsolescence? Technology marches on, and they are not entitled not to become obsolete.
The accusation that this "sucks for users " is ridiculous. It seems that they (all browser makers) are just taking a position in a war to see what format becomes the HTML5 standard. For some reason, google is being accused of being the devil for giving less choice where : a) Apple and Microsoft both support H.264 and NOT WebM in their browsers and b) Firefox and opera support WebM and not H.264.
You seem concerned that this will slow down transition from flash. Well, I got news , we do not want to transition from flash just for transition's sake. If we transition from flash, it better be to something better, and that includes concerns about royalties. It is clear that we all obediently adopting MS and Apple's defacto standard will benefit them, but making developers required to pay royalties to implement support for standard HTML5 is just lame. It is also incompatible with the GPL.
Your 'expert opinion' also misses the whole point. All software is probably patent-encumbered in one way or another. And that WebM may or may not be patent encumbered does not instantly turn it into an as undesirable candidate for web as H.264 already is. Case in point is, that WebM is royalty free and H.264 isn't.
Google may be manipulating the market for selfish reasons, but you are foolish to think that's not exactly what Apple and Microsoft are doing. And overall, Google's intentions with this are irrelevant in comparison to what this will accomplish. If Apple and Microsoft don't get away with H.264 it will make the web more open by default. WebM is an open source project and soon will be an open standard. And anyway, a triumvirate of the three best browsers is standing for it. Unlike the other two guys - known software patent bullies, with a story of liking closedness and ruining the web with defacto standards.
I don't wish to be pedantic
I don't buy it.
Really? What's next, someone claiming copyright infringement based on using the letter i as a temporary variable?
I am afraid that chances are there is already a software patent for that.
5th, who makes a gun shaped controller for a Wii?! It's a platform mainly aimed at KIDS!!!
You mean KIDS now play with gun-shaped toys? Oh no!
"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen