Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Google to drop H.264 support from Chrome

The Chromium Blog has announced that Chrome will be moving to WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs in the next couple of months, and dropping H.264 support:
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.
John Gruber at Daring Fireball wonders what a move away from H.264 would mean for mobile platforms:
The big problem WebM has versus H.264 is that there are hardware decoders for H.264. This is key for mobile devices. It’s the hardware video decoding that allows mobile devices to get such long battery life and smooth performance for video playback. There’s no way publishers can drop H.264. To support Chrome, they’d have to add WebM-encoded versions of each video.
He also wonders why Google says they are doing this because their “goal is to enable open innovation” when they already ship an embedded copy of the Flash player within Chrome; Flash is hardly an open standard.

I still think that Google wants to get away from H.264 use on YouTube, and this is their first step in hurrying that along...

Chromium Blog: HTML Video Codec Support in Chrome
Daring Fireball: Google Dropping Support for H.264 in Chrome

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