Google Removes Support For H.264

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Yesterday, Google published a statement that they are dropping support for the H.264 codec in the Chrome web browser and replacing it for their WebM codec.

This is highly significant because one of the largest proponents of H.264 is Apple. The codec is specifically used within iOS for most of the video functionality.

With the competition between iOS and Android growing, one can’t help but wonder the main reasons behind this move.

According to the blog post, this particular move was done for the following reasons:

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.

Of course, if “open innovation” really is the main goal, then why is Flash going to be continued to be baked into the browser?

With Flash being a closed platform and Google attempting to foster openness, it seems more driven by strategy of business rather than the ethics of software.

Weigh in: what are your thoughts?

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Tom

I write both code and content for this team and I love every minute of it.

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  1. George says

    Why cant they just add the WebM codec without removing H264, I def agree that this is more strategic than it is for “fostering openess”, Its going to end up Yat another annoying codec you will ahve to download for other systems if you aren’t using chrome…

    I cant say i see this happening in the long haul as there are so many sites dependant on h264 already, It will go the way of google video, buzz, and wave, they need to start innovating again and stop trying to replace other products and fix stuff that isn’t broken…

  2. says

    The fact of the matter is that H.264 is not an open standard; it contains software patents. Firefox, Chrome, and Opera will all support WebM. IE can support it with a simple codec install. This decision by Google is a huge step toward the goal of having one open video format that all browsers can support freely. If Apple chooses not to support it, they are the ones making life difficult for web developers, not Google, IMHO.

  3. says

    Also, remember that Flash is much more than just a video format; it is an application framework. Neither H.264 nor WebM are a direct replacement for Flash as a whole. (Not even HTML5 is a direct replacement.) It has been around much longer than H.264, and it still needs to be supported, unfortunately.

  4. says

    There needs to be one standard, or at least a common compatibility, if we are going to really make video as easily insertable as jpg or gif.

    So it’s gotta be one or the other, and Google clearly wants WebM.

  5. BenJPickett says

    H264 has been a great a push for standardizing a video platform, it’s powerful, has a great compression to quality ratio and has been very well adopted across multiple platforms as both Apple and Microsoft are using it, supporting it and engaged with it extensively. I think that’s more likely the problem that google seems to be having with this, it isn’t about who developed it, it’s about who didn’t. It has been a very succesful platform without any Google involvement, and if you look at all of the services they offer this seems to be a problem for them; they revolutionized search and now it seems like they think they have to revolutionize everything else.

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