H.264 codec to be dropped from Chrome/Chromium HTML5 video tag
oh, my! If we are to believe the recent announcement from the Google Chrome Product Manager, and why shouldn’t we, support for the H.264 codec will be dropped from Chromium’s HTML5 <video> tag (and its branded brother Google Chrome), to favor open innovation.
That will happen in the coming months, so most probably post Chromium 10 for us (v10 enters beta in a month from now).
I have to admit this announcement caught me by surprise as it’s a bold move from Google, but I loudly applaud the decision. It makes sense, even if it’s a risk of splitting the world apart… again. Something tells me that while pleasing the community, it’s a way for Google to spare time and money on encoding and storing yet another copy of those 35+ hours of video uploaded every minute, and even better, they can now do it with yet-another technology they control.
So some would say, it’s a move to favor Google’s VP8 codec, WebM. I tend to see the situation as positive. There are alternatives to the Google implementation, like the one from FFmpeg, ffvp8, claiming to be superior, but the WebM community is also very actively working on improving the reference implementation. Both implementations are open and it’s clear the competition is already driving the innovation, and that’s what we should all be happy about. I also remember some Chromium developers saying that if another implementation proves to be superior, a switch in not excluded.
Anyway, most users won’t and shouldn’t care about which codec a video is in, even less which implementation, so if the emerging HTML5 video codec is fast and open, we all win. Chrome already gained enough market share to take such decision and be taken seriously by (active) content providers, especially when grouped with Firefox. Let’s hope content quickly follows.