Chrome Dropping H.264 Support

Posted: January 12, 2011 Comments(4)

Chromium Blog: HTML Video Codec Support in Chrome.

This story made quite the wave yesterday, with myself included. I’ve been using Chrome as my primary browser for months, I love it. This decision will cause me to switch back to Safari. From the looks of it, there are lots of others with the same mentality.

The true motives behind this move, to me, are mostly apparent. Google is trying to flex muscle through Chrome, but the trouble is that they’re flexing muscle to the wrong crowd. The majority of Chrome users are Web devs. Web devs care about standards, and to be even more detailed; we care a lot about HTML5. The fallback plan for ditching H.264 leaves most of us with viewing a heck of a lot more Flash video than we do now, and it’s not boding well. Google says that:

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.

Emphasis mine.

I, like just about everyone else, am sarcastically curious about the future of Flash. We know how that’ll pan out though. All in all, when Chrome does in fact drop support for H.264, it will find it’s way off my Dock and be removed as a default browser.

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been using the Chromium based RockMelt and have been enjoying it a lot. Working on HTML5 based sites I could often get away with leaving .webm video out of the video source since it plays one of the other formats as well and it drastically reduced the time to encode all video in three versions, when you have a LOT of video. When H.264 support drops I will be back to Safari which is still one of my favorite browsers (minus the enormous memory consumption). Sad to see that the fight for ‘domination’ isn’t over. Browser companies: just we all just get along? So much for standards. On the plus side: it’s once again a win for flash based development! At least for now.

  2. I love the Chrome browser, and I’m all in favour of open standards — but taking that to the extent of DROPPING support for something that you already support and which is widely used is not an inherently logical conclusion and serves no useful purpose — it’s just nuts. What have those Chrome boys been smoking?

  3. I’m a little dumbfounded with all the fuss on chrome dropping h.264 support. If people are worried their browser will not be able to access content, then I understand completely. I feel however, most people don’t even consider the possibility content might be also available in webm or vorbis. They simply state: give me h.264 or I’ll go back to safari, and this is exactly the point, safari will now be the only of the big browsers to support h.264. At 4% market share, h.264 can hardly be considered the standard on html5 video. Even thought the upcoming IE9 might change status quo considerably by supporting h.264 out of the box, it has also been stated that it will support webm and vorbis through system codecs.

    h.264 is the standard in streaming applications such as itunes and home entertainment systems using the bluray format. It is also, curiously, the standard in flash applications. I don’t believe it is, in html5 video, nor it has to be. Has I said, I’m a little dumbfounded.

  4. Well, I’m considering moving *to* Chromium. This was a truly nice move by Google. It’s showing great sympathy to both Mozilla Firefox, Opera, W3C and not to mention the whole free software community in doing this.

    We can’t rely on H.264, sad as it may be, – because sadly some parts of the world have software patents, and swpats on H.264 does not come with a guarantee that they will be gratis forever.

    Now you don’t have to use WebM to «just support» Firefox (and Opera, but few care about O anyway), you also have to use it to support Chrome. So, well, it makes a lot of sense to use WebM.

    Right now I’m just waiting for Flash WebM-compatibility to arrive, so that I can also support legacy browsers like Safari. 🙂

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