I used to think those people were lying to take advantage, but as I've gotten older I have come to recognize that these 'yes' people get promoted a lot. And for some of them, they really do believe what they are saying.
As an engineer I've found that once I can 'calibrate' someone's 'yes-ness' I can then work with them, understanding that they only make 'wishful' commitments rather than 'reasoned' commitments.
So when someone, like Steve Jobs, says "we're going to make it an open standard!", my first question then is "Great, I've got your support in making this an open standard so I can count on you to wield your position influence to aid me when folks line up against that effort, right?" If the answer that that question is no, then they were lying.
The difference is subtle of course but important. Steve clearly doesn't go to standards meetings and vote etc, but if Manager Bob gets push back from accounting that he's going to exceed his travel budget by sending 5 guys to the Open Video Chat Working Group which is championing the Facetime protocol as an open standard, then Manager Bob goes to Steve and says "I need your help here, these 5 guys are needed to argue this standard and keep it from being turned into a turd by the 5 guys from Google who are going to attend." and then Steve whips off a one liner to accounting that says "Get off this guy's back we need this." Then its all good. If on the other hand he says "We gotta save money, send one guy." well in that case I'm more sympathetic to the accusation of prevarication.
If others own the patents, Apple can still open Facetime with the requirement the anybody who wants to use it has to go to the patent holders before it can be made into a product.
And they could open source it and leave it to the community to handle licensing but you'll eventually end up with fragmentation as some clients implement features that others won't.