The outstanding mobile strategy blog, asymco writes an astute analysis on how Google is approaching the Chrome video codec issue from completely the wrong way. It’s not H.264 vs WebM vs Flash:

So the argument I’ve heard against Google’s decision is that they are using an infrastructural technology decision (a new video codec) to placate or sustain Adobe Flash, at the expense of Apple, a potential or perceived rival.

If this was the plan, it would be a strategic mistake.

The reason is that Flash will live or die on the basis of whether the business model is sustainable. That is decided by whether an integrated, proprietary technology is over-shooting and unable to adapt to a mobile computing future that demands modularity from components. If Flash is doomed, then its fate is inevitable.

In other words, you cannot use an infrastructural technology to defend a sustaining, possibly over-serving technology.

Which is why I don’t think this was the motivation.

I rather think that Google’s decision is a misguided emphasis on technical details in lieu of engaging in a deep strategic re-evaluation.

He compares this decision to John Sculley at Apple in the Mid-90s when they went with the RISC technology with IBM & Motorola.

That decision sounds very similar to what is being done today at Google. Increasingly, technology decisions are leading strategy. The question should not be “H.264 vs. WebM” or “HTML5 vs. Flash”. Google should be asking itself if mobile computing will allow browsing to remain the predominant interface for internet consumption. If, as I suspect, it won’t then no amount of browser tweaking will help. The browser is already infrastructural. It can’t be the object of strategic focus.


By focusing on threats and byzantine standards machinations, rather than on broad, experiential learning, Google missed (yet another) next big thing.