Google kills H.264 in Chrome

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Open video

The Internet reacted to yesterday's post on the Chromium blog with astounding speed. What caused the hubbub?

We expect even more rapid innovation in the web media platform in the coming year and are focusing our investments in those technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web principles. To that end, we are changing Chrome’s HTML5 <video> support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project. Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies.

And since so much has already been said on the matter, I'm simply offering a roundup of what's already been written.

 And to conclude, my favorite of the commentary. Simon Phipps tells everyone to relax, calling "this bold move...another step towards an end to the Flash monopoly on rich media" (Google and H.264 - Far From Hypocritical).

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Ruth Suehle is the community leadership manager for Red Hat's Open Source and Standards team. She's co-author of Raspberry Pi Hacks (O'Reilly, December 2013) and a senior editor at GeekMom, a site for those who find their joy in both geekery and parenting.


Open standards that can be used, developed upon and implemented by anyone are tantamount to fixing the broken web. Imagine if everyone standardized on a closed source html version that required licensing and patent agreements to use? Well, we saw this when IE ruled the roost. Lack of innovation, inability to run other browsers without serious problems and active-x hacks that compromised entire datacenters.

You mention the divide, however you must remember that Firefox and Chrome hold a considerable amount of the marketplace and both support Theora. I doubt you'll see much more than perhaps Apple's websites fully on h.264.

The fact that a startup could be hindered by the licensing costs of h.264 that are not guaranteed to stay the same year after year, nor clamp down on the restrictions is enough to make it not worth our time. Forget the divide, open standards close the divide. We have seen this time and again...

Pretend Gruber's blog post is about VHS and my answer to his questions is "who cares."

I think this is a step in the right direction, but it won't have anywhere near the potential effect of another Google enterprise, YouTube. Imagine this scenario...Google finishes transcoding all of it's YouTube videos to WebM and it becomes default. Unfortunately, it won't work for people using internet explorer or safari. For people using a pre-html5 web browser version, they would be told to upgrade or to use Firefox or Chrome to view the videos. When someone using internet explorer 9 or later or safari tries to use YouTube, it informs them that they are missing something that would enable them to view the video, much the same thing that would happen today if people were missing flash when they tried to use YouTube today. When people go to install the missing components, open codecs and/or a browser plugin are installed to make the browser WebM capable. If this were to happen, almost every browser would end up supporting open video.

This is originally what I thought Google would do, but the way I see it, they are just trying to keep Flash alive.

If Google had some guts, they would force WebM on YouTube rather than trying to kill off other useful competitors.

I wouldn't go off-topic but I found the following very interesting: <a href="">In 2010 Chrome’s rise was Firefox’s loss</a>

IMHO if those stats are saying the truth, the decision of removing h264 support from chrome will probably cause even more users to move from firefox to chromium ... but we won't see many IE or Safari users going to chrome

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