FluMotion Offers webM Based Live Streaming

Barely a week ago, Google unveiled the new open audio-video platform dubbed webM. Since, then we have seen a flurry of activities surrounding webM. Opera integrated webM into its main trunk, Firefox is supporting it in their nightly builds, Google has released a Chromium build with webM and earlier today VLC became one of the first webM compatible media players. Now, the Barcelona based Flumotion is pushing their in-house webM powered live http streaming technology.


We are certain to have been the first to offer live HTTP streaming in WebM only 48 hours after the announcement, claimed Thomas Vander Stichele, CTO of Flumotion. In fact, Flumotion reacted with immense speed and offered their solution just 48 hours after webM was announced.

The fast integration of WebM proves once again the flexibility of our technology and the expertise of our development team, remarked Jean Noel Saunier, CEO and Co-founder of Flumotion. He added, Speed, innovation and end-to-end services are the important factors for our clients, who need to stay on top of new formats and devices to ensure that their content reaches the maximum audience possible.

FluMotion’s webM live stream can be demoed here.

Facebook’s New Simplified Privacy Settings in a Nutshell

Over the past few weeks Facebook has been under fire from all corners for its sloppy privacy policies. Of course, this isn’t something new to Facebook. In the past Facebook has been slammed by privacy advocates for various missteps like the Beacon. The latest outburst was prompted by the introduction of Facebook Open Graph.

During a press event held at its headquarters, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the new simplified privacy controls for Facebook. One of the troubles with Facebook has been that its granular privacy controls are too complicated for most users. Facebook is hoping that the new privacy controls will alleviate this issue.


The announced privacy settings overhaul is quite significant. To begin with, you will now have access to a single control to change settings for all content and its visibility on the site. According to Zuckerberg, there will be less publicly available information and more privacy control for connections. You can once again keep your friend list as well as subscriptions private.


Moreover, Facebook will now differentiate between “basic directory information” and other information included in your profile. The basic directory information will be public by default, so that other people can find you.


Facebook is also making it easy to opt out of instant personalization. It will offer a single checkbox to prevent external sites from harvesting your private information. You can even opt out of the entire Facebook platform (applications and extensions).

While these new privacy controls will perhaps help in quelling the growing sentiment of discontent towards Facebook, the main cause for controversy still remains unaddressed. Instant Personalization is still enabled by default. In fact, almost all Facebook privacy controversies have been triggered due to its insistence on making new features opt-out rather than opt-in by default.

Unfortunately, this won’t be changing anytime soon. Zuckerberg indicated that he believes that Facebook’s privacy model is complete and ruled out any further substantial changes in the near future. The simplified privacy controls will be rolled out at facebook.com/privacy over the new few days.

Screenshots via TechCrunch and video via Robert Scoble

FTC Approves Google’s Admob Acquisition

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has approved Google’s $750 million acquisition of the mobile advertisement network AdMob. After a six month review, FTC concluded that the acquisition “is unlikely to harm competition in the emerging market for mobile advertising networks”.

This move would come as a relief to Google, whose growing prominence has brought it under the FTC’s scanner. Even as late as last month, FTC appeared to be swaying against the deal that raised “serious antitrust issues”. Yet, when it came to making the final decision, the acquisition sailed through with 5-0 votes in favor of closing the inquiry. So, what changed?

It appears that Apple may have inadvertently helped Google through their purchase of the mobile ad network Quattro Wireless. “As a result of Apple’s entry (into the market), AdMob’s success to date on the iPhone platform is unlikely to be an accurate predictor of AdMob’s competitive significance going forward, whether AdMob is owned by Google or not,the Commission’s statement explains. During the investigation, FTC reached out to several developers, who opined in favor of the acquisition. In fact, some of these developers even voiced their opinion in their blogs and publicly hinted at FTC’s anti-Google bias.

AdMob, founded by Omar Hamoui in 2006, is a dominant player in the Mobile advertising market and reportedly serve more than 7.1 billion mobile banner and text ads per month. Google acquired it in late 2009 after winning a bidding war against Apple.

Google TV: The Power of the Web, Now on Your Television

Google TV is here and it promises to redefine your TV viewing experience. Earlier today, the Mountain View, California based search engine giant announced its new platform at the Google I/O.

Google TV is a software platform for set-top boxes and HDTVs which is powered by the Android mobile operating system running on top of an Intel Atom processor. Chrome browser with Adobe Flash support will ensure access to the full web from your television.


TV Meets Web. Web Meets TVis the slogan Google is using for Google TV and it is in fact the most accurate description. Search will very much be a part of the Google TV. You will be instantly able to access any channel by typing its name. Better still, if you know the name of a program, but don’t know the channel it airs on, search will help you locate it.

Google envisions its new initiative as an open platform, which will be used by others to build their own products. It is challenging developers to come up with new web and Android applications designed specifically for television sets.


Google has already paired up with hardware manufacturers like Logitech and Sony. While Sony will be integrating Google’s new platform directly into their new HDTVs, Logitech will be manufacturing set-top boxes that will bring Google TV to older television sets.

It’s hard to say if Google TV will indeed succeed in redefining the television industry. Are the consumers ready for such a convergence device? Only time will tell. However, if Google TV succeeds, it may very well replace our standard cable TV. Imagine a scenario where YouTube takes care of live events like sports, while Netflix and Hulu take care of movies and standard television programs. Even more significantly, if Google succeeds, it will be able to significantly increase its ad reach and access new demographics of users.

YouTube Blocked In Pakistan, Who’s Next?

In another crackdown on the Internet, the Pakistan government have blocked access in the country. Users visiting the site might not be able to access videos on YouTube.

YouTube Blocked

However, this is not the first website to be banned in Pakistan, as they had also blocked access to yesterday over some Controversial Caricatures.

According to a BBC report, Pakistan has blocked YouTube because of its "growing sacrilegious content". In addition to that, there are reports that several Wikipedia pages are also being restricted by the government.

The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority said it had ordered internet service providers to "completely shut down" YouTube and prevent Facebook from being viewed within Pakistan.

Banning websites is not a new phenomenon and countries like China have blocked access to almost every popular social networking sites including Facebook, and . The Indian government in the past has also blocked access to BlogSpot blogs and other websites.

So is the South Asian region more susceptible to banning website and internet freedom? The recent crackdowns don’t give a different picture here.

WebM: Why We Should Be Excited

WebM-Open-Video-Codec Google has just unveiled WebM – an open source royalty free codec based on VP8 by On2. If everything goes according to (Google’s) plans, WebM would become the de-facto standard for HTML5 videos. In the past, I have emphasized on numerous occasions the need for an open codec – both on TechieBuzz and on my personal blog.

Until now, two codecs were being considered for use with the <video> tag – H.264 and Theora. Unfortunately, there are considerable problems with both. While Ogg Theora is royalty free and open source, it is a technically inferior codec. Not only are the file sizes generated by Ogg Theora larger, but it also lacks hardware acceleration support. The latter is critical for mobile devices like the iPad and the the iPhone. H.264 is a superior codec, but it is proprietary. If it becomes the prevalent codec, we would be held hostage to MPEG-LA’s goodwill.

If you believe that this doesn’t affect you, then think again. MPEG-LA is legally entitled to collect royalty from both content distributors as well as (commercial) content providers. Yes, they have decided to waiver this fee til 2015. However, there is nothing stopping them from changing their minds after the initial grace period is over.

WebM offers a way out. It is a media project encompassing both audio and video. While the video codec is based on VP8 codec by On2 (Theora is based on VP3), Vorbis will be used for delivering audio. The container format is based on a subset of the Matroska media container.

WebM will be initially supported by Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. While Chrome had earlier chosen to support both H.264 and Theora, the latter two had opted against using the patent encumbered H.264. Now the big question is, will Apple and Microsoft back WebM?

My guess is that Microsoft will make Internet Explorer WebM compliant in time. The biggest thorn in Google’s way may be Apple. Apple has been pushing hard in favor of H.264. In fact, recently Steve Jobs had issued a thinly veiled threat against Theora. His exact words being, “A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other open sourcecodecs now”.

The biggest advantage WebM has is Google and its might. While, MPEG-LA would like to go after any open codec it considers a threat, Google is a formidable target. WebM will also be getting a huge initial impetus in form of YouTube compatibility. Numerous major players have already pledged to support WebM. Besides the aforementioned browser vendors, hardware manufacturers like AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Freescale, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments will be backing the new technology. Adobe will also be supporting WebM through Flash.

If you want to get a taste of WebM go ahead and download the experimental builds of Mozilla Firefox or Opera. Google Chrome builds with WebM should be released on May 24.

[ Download Opera and Mozilla Firefox with WebM ]

Justin Bieber Returns To Twitter’s Trending List As Fans Fight Back Against Algorithm Change

Twieber-Justin-Bieber-Twitter-TrendsJust a couple of days ago, we reported that Twitter has changed its trending topics algorithm to weed out perennial hot topics like Justin Bieber.

Twitter’s new algorithm filters out topics that are consistently popular and instead showcases only new topics that are really trending. Because of this change, Justin Bieber – a popular Canadian singer and a teen heartthrob, disappeared from Twitter’s ‘Trending’ topics list for nearly two days.

Evidently, this change didn’t go down well with fans of the 16 year old sensation. Obsessed Bieber fans have worked around the algorithmic change by making variants of the word Justin Bieber trend. Some of the topics, which have been trending in the past 24 hours, are #biebertrend, twieber and jieber.

Whether you love him or hate him, one thing is becoming clear. If you are on Twitter, you just can’t ignore him. It almost appears as if his super obsessed fans have made it their motto to keep him trending.

Update: As pointed out by one of our commenters, Twieber is actually a Twitter close for Justin Bieber fans!

YouTube Turns 5: Now Streaming 2 Billion Views Per Day


The website that spawned a million internet sensations and memes is celebrating its fifth birthday today. If this feels like déjà vu to you, then that’s because back in April, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the first video uploaded on YouTube.


There is no doubt that YouTube has come a long way in these five years. The pioneer of the online video revolution is now doing everything from live event coverage and movie premieres to movie rentals. Currently, YouTube serves more than 2 billion views everyday. This is nearly double the prime-time audience of the top three television networks in America combined. Here is a quick look at YouTube’s evolution.

YouTube Celebrates 5th Birthday

Early Days of YouTube

First Video Uploaded on YouTube

While the most popular video on YouTube is Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance (196 million views), the first video to reach 1 million views was a Ronaldinho video clip. Although YouTube’s top 5 videos list is dominated by commecial productions, the most popular channel on YouTube is nigahiga, which consists of ameteur videos posted by Ryan Higa. Check out this interactive timeline prepared by YouTube, which showcases some of the landmark and popular YouTube videos.

YouTube is sharing touching, funny and interesting stories of how it has affected the lives of people around the world. Head over to YouTube’s official birthday channel to share your story, see what other’s have shared or watch the favourite videos of celebrities like Conan O’Brien, Vint Cerf and Katie Couric.

inforgraphics via TechCrunch

Steve Jobs: The Times They Are A Changin’

Apple-Steve-Jobs Of late, Steve Jobs has been responding to queries from random strangers with surprising regularity. Unlike most other CEOs, he doesn’t sugarcoat his words. His typical email response reads a lot like a tweet – concise and pointed. However, for once he took a break from sending one-line responses.

It all started when Gawker blogger Ryan Tate fired an angry response to Steve Jobs, after being irked by a television ad hailing the iPad as revolutionary. To his surprise, Jobs responded within a few hours. In the (heated) debate that followed, Jobs defended his stance on Adobe, porn and mobile computing in general. The entire e-mail exchange is reprinted below.

  • Ryan Tate: If Dylan was 20 today, how would he feel about your company? Would he think the iPad had the faintest thing to do with revolution?Revolutions are about freedom.
  • Steve Jobs: Yep, freedom from programs that steal your private data. Freedom from programs that trash your battery. Freedom from porn. Yep, freedom. The times they are a changin’, and some traditional PC folks feel like their world is slipping away. It is.
  • Ryan Tate: Was it a technical issuewhen Microsoft was trying to make everyone write to the Win32 API? Were you happy when Adobe went along with that? You have the chance to set the tone for a new platform. For the new phone and tablet platform. The platform of the future! I am disappointed to see it’s the same old revenge power bullshit.
    PS And yes I may sound bitter. Because I don’t think it’s a technical issue at all — it’s you imposing your morality; about porn, about trade secrets’, about technical purity in the most bizarre sense. Apple itself has used translation layers and intermediate APIs. Objective C and iTunes for Windows are testament to this. Anyone who has spent any time coding knows the power and importance of intermediate APIs.
    And I don’t like Apple’s pet police force literally kicking in my co-workers’ doors. But I suppose the courts will have the last say on that, I can’t say I’m worried.
  • Steve Jobs: You are so misinformed. No one kicked in any doors. You’re believing a lot of erroneous blogger reports.
    Microsoft had (has) every right to enforce whatever rules for their platform they want. If people don’t like it, they can write for another platform, which some did. Or they can buy another platform, which some did.
    As for us, we’re just doing what we can to try and make (and preserve) the user experience we envision. You can disagree with us, but our motives are pure.
    By the way, what have you done that’s so great? Do you create anything, or just criticize others work and belittle their motivations?

I am among those who don’t believe the closed environment that Apple is trying to popularize. In fact, what Jobs tried to portray as freedom, is actually the total opposite. I want to be able to use my device as I wish. I don’t want to be told that I can’t run an app, as it would gobble up my battery. I don’t want to be treated as a child while using a device I purchased.

Even then, I cannot but admire Jobs candidness. He appeared levelheaded (save for the arrogant jab right at the end) and firm during the argument. It’s clear from the conversation that Jobs is a man with a vision and he firmly believes in that vision. He truly believes that mobile devices will shape our future. In fact, it almost seems as if Jobs thinks that as the leading innovators in the segment it is Apple’s responsibility to be responsible.

Xiph.Org Foundation Responds To Steve Jobs’ Threat: “Creative Individuals Don’t Really Like to Give Their Business to Jackbooted Thugs”

Monty Montgomery of Xiph.Org Foundation has responded to Steve Job’s threat. Xiph is the foundation responsible for taking care of Ogg, Theora and many other codecs. If you have missed the on-going codec wars, now would be a good time to catch up. Check out our previous article on Steve Job’s veiled threat to Theora before proceeding.

Here is Montgomery’s response:

Thomson Multimedia made their first veiled patent threats against Vorbis almost ten years ago. MPEG-LA has been rumbling for the past few years. Maybe this time it will actually come to something, but it hasn’t yet. I’ll get worried when the lawyers advise me to; i.e., not yet.

The MPEG-LA has insinuated for some time that it is impossible to build any video codec without infringing on at least some of their patents. That is, they assert they have a monopoly on all digital video compression technology, period, and it is illegal to even attempt to compete with them. Of course, they’ve been careful not to say quite exactly that.

If Jobs’s email is genuine, this is a powerful public gaffe (‘All video codecs are covered by patents.’) He’d be confirming MPEG’s assertion in plain language anyone can understand. It would only strengthen the pushback against software patents and add to Apple’s increasing PR mess. Macbooks and iPads may be pretty sweet, but creative individuals don’t really like to give their business to jackbooted thugs.

Montgomery’s comment is both straight to the point and piercing. He is right in highlighting the fallacy of software patents. Instead of encouraging competition and innovation, they promote bullying and stifle the little guy. It’s ironic that Apple is trying to portray itself as open and also going after an open source project like Theora at the same time.

Update: Xiph’s Greg Maxwell has also responded to this controversy by trying to clear up the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) that companies like Apple and Microsoft are trying to generate around open codecs like Theora. You can read his take over here.