☝ Google, Chrome and H.264 – Far From Hypocritical

When Google announced yesterday that they were withdrawing from their Chrome browser embedded support in the HTML5 <video> tag for the H.264 encoding standard, there was immediate reaction. While some of it was either badly informed views by people who can’t handle indirect causality or astroturf trolling by competitors, some of it was well-observed. For example, when they said:

“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.”

they indicated that a motivation was to only use “completely open” technologies in Chrome. Yet they did not mention Adobe’s proprietary Flash system, designed for embedded media programming yet definitely not “completely open” even by Adobe’s special definitions of the word.

Continue reading on ComputerWorldUK

4 Responses

  1. So whats your perspective? Have a handle on whats behind this rather than the wild speculation that I’ve seen…

    As an outsider in this field, I must say I was surprised by both the announcement and justification.

  2. Sorry Simon, haste makes waste. I viewed your tweet and this blog entry on my BB. I didn’t see the link, my bad.

    I agree, by removing H.264 support they are likely to drive adoption differently than if they’d continued to support it. Only this morning was I engaged in a discussion here about why under the current process it’s much better to patent something with the specific goal of not monetizing it and granting free and in perpetuity access through a standards body. I need to go verify the Google license/patents for WebM as that would make a good use case to support my argument. Thanks for the heads up on this.

  3. Hi Simon,

    There is just one thing that you haven’t considered: Live Streaming! Apple’s HTTP Live streaming technology or something similar is perfect for watching LIVE TV broadcasts from the web-browser. Excluding H.264 and MPEG2 from the list automatically means that you need separate transport streams for the web browsers, encoded in WebM. Having access to H.264/MPEG2/MP3/AAC/AC3 basically allows one to simply stream the DVB TS over HTTP without re-encoding. Imagine the computing power required to re-encode in realtime 100 or 200 SD and HD streams to WebM/Theora.

    I personally think that it completely kills this option for smaller ISPs that would otherwise provide their TV programming for their users also through the web-browser when they are not at home.

    TV broadcasting, DVDs, Blu-Ray, Music Video Stores (on demand and download) are built around H.264/MPEG2/AAC/AC3 and the web shouldn’t be any different, regardless of the ethics of this. You just can’t fight it without huge costs to everyone. I believe that this approach will keep everyone except Youtube away from HTML5 Video.


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