Update: Google has a new post up talking about the move more, and answering some frequently asked questions.
Original Article: Google announced that it will no longer support popular video codec H.264 for the HTML5 <video tag> with its Chrome browse. The move has raised some eyebrows. Google basically says it’s about openness and that by removing support for the codec, it will enable innovation. Here’s what Google said:
We expect even more rapid innovation in the web media platform in the coming year and are focusing our investments in those technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web principles. To that end, we are changing Chrome’s HTML5 <video> support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project. Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. 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.
Comments on the announcement on Google’s Chromium blog include:
"Whoah, ballsy move Google. Ballsy move. I like it."
"No…No more codecs!"
"Thumbs up, Google."
"Wow, this is the worst thing to happen to web standards I’ve seen in a long time. This just reinforces the notion that Google doesn’t care about users."
As you can see, opinions vary, which is probably why discussion about it is all over Techmeme at the moment.
Joe Mullen at PaidContent says, "Google has essentially declared war against the web’s dominant video format…"
MG Siegler at TechCrunch writes, "The problem is that Google’s stated stance is now that they’re all about enabling ‘open innovation’ by removing non-open technologies like H.264…But you can’t be hypocritical, Google. Remove Flash too if that’s your real stance….Of course, it’s much more complicated than that. One of the big backers of H.264 is Google’s ever-growing rival, Apple. More specifically, the technology is front and center to much of what iOS has to offer. iOS, which is the main rival to Google’s Android platform."
Google says the changes will occur in the next couple months, but that they wanted to get the announcement out there so content providers can prepare.
It’s worth noting that Firefox doesn’t support H.264 either. This Wikipedia entry has a pretty helpful chart of which browsers support what.