“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.”
Google would support open standards like OggTheora or WebM instead. But let us analyse what would be the consequences and who would benefit the most.
What is H.264 ?
(From Wikipedia) H.264 is a standard for video compression, and is currently one of the most commonly used formats for the recording, compression, and distribution of high definition video. Quite literally, most videos that you play every day is encoded in H.264. All the videos recorded by your cameras are encoded in H.264. Google’s own Android platform encodes videos in H.264. But this is a patented technology and consumer equipment manufacturers (Blu-ray Disc players and recorders), software developers (encoding programs, DVD players), and content developers who use H.264 technology have to pay royalty. Currently Google does pay this royalty fees (although its negligible compared to their income).
What is HTML 5 <video> tag?
HTML 5 (the latest edition of the HTML web standard) features a new tag called <video> and <audio> with which you can insert videos and audios into your web page just like classic <img> tag. With this one could do away with Adobe Flash player (and save some of your processor power). Youtube have an html5 version http://www.youtube.com/html5.
- Chrome users would have to resort to closed source, proprietary Adobe Flash plugin to view H.264 videos (which is most of the videos). This contradicts the Google argument of the move being pro-openness. Not to mention users not being able to enjoy HTML5 goodness.
- Adobe flash player stays for good. Google’s video ads, the ones that come on Youtube videos, uses flash technologies to work. It can not be done using HTML5 currently. (Smell conspiracy ??)
- Web developers who want their videos available in all platforms will have to encode his H.264 videos to WebM ( which is a painfully slow process ) because there are no recording devices that support WebM. Otherwise he could embed a flash player on his site. The latter would be what all would prefer. Who loses? WebM and HTML5 for which Google say they stand for.
Is Google move pro-openness or a silent move to retain Flash in chrome and continue generating income from video ads ?? You decide.