Chrome defends drop of H.264 codec support

Chrome drops H.264

A few days ago, Google announced they were dropping H.264 video support for their browser : Chrome.
This has come as a pretty big surprise to most of the industry and people had different opinions about it. Some said it was “short-term pain for long-term benefit” and others said it was plain stupid. It is important to point out that this change only effects the HTML5 <video> tag, which is only available in the latest browsers.

Google’s argument is three-fold :

  1. H.264 is not open, nor is it free. A license fee has to be paid for every product that ships with the codec. Hence, this is not possible for any open-source project (their revenue being as small as it is, cannot go into licensing other code).
  2. This is not a “move on it’s own”. Many open-source communities are behind this move, not the least being Firefox and Opera.
  3. The <video> tag in browsers such as Opera and Firefox (two of the other big browsers) do not support H.264 either. This means that publishers will have to encode their video twice in any case (which means that Google is not causing that situation by dropping support now).

I myself think it is a good move. If Google is smart (and presumably it is), they will re-encode all Youtube videos with their native WebM format. Youtube being the largest video-sharing website around, they can make this move for the better, getting rid of the patent loaded H.264 once and for all :).

Sources : http://blog.chromium.org/

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