Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Google Dropping H.264 is a Good Thing

There's been a lot of controversy about Google's recent announcement of their decision to drop native H.264 video from their Chrome browser to support the open-source WebM video format. The problem? Most of the videos encoded for the web make use of H.264 as their default encoder. In essence anyone using the Chrome browser would need to use Adobe Flash as their video player, a non-open format program, to play the H.264 videos. Many industry insiders argue that Google would be giving a lot of power back to Adobe's Flash player which negates the whole thing to began with.

This is true, in the short term. In the long term this will have tremendous benefits for the open internet. WebM is open source and royalty free -- forever, while H.264 is currently not. This means that both small and large business will be able to post videos online without having to pay an entity royalties for encoding a video using their codec. As a small business (or even just an everyday invididual) you can see how this can provide a long term benefit for you.

Before this announcement it was just Mozilla Firefox standing out in the cold, but now with Google also backing the idea, their combined 50%+ market share give this effort has a lot more credence. We hope that Google's gutsy call will accelerate the adoption of the WebM video format in HTML5.

The only browsers currently supporting H.264 natively are Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari.

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