Video compression technology can be interesting, really.
Most people forget how online video worked before YouTube popularized the embedded Flash video player. Remember the frustration of making sure you had the right video player to play this or that web video? It was YouTube that popularized giving people one-click access to videos.
On Wednesday, Google said it had agreed to acquire On2 Technologies, a maker of video compression technology, in a deal that could have sweeping effects for how video works on the web. The Internet search leader has a bland blog post about how it intends to use On2 to innovate in how video working on the Web, but it isn't at all clear how far it Google is ready to go.
There's lots of speculation that Google may choose to open source, or give away, On2's video compression technology, undercutting royalty-bearing video compression technologies in use across the Web. That could undermine Adobe and its widely used Flash player, Microsoft, with its Silverlight alternative, not to mention Apple Inc and RealNetworks. Dan Frommer at Silicon Alley Insider spells out how far-reaching the Google gambit could be. As a counterpoint, Dan Rayburn of StreamingMedia.com argues the Google move is no big deal.
Google is only paying $106.5 million in stock for the American Stock Exchange listed-firm based in Clifton Park, New York. Because the deal involves two public companies, there's an outside chance that a competitor may want to mount a rival bid. The On2 board would have to consider a richer bid for fiduciary reasons. Google might have more on its hands that it bargained for.