Last week, the Chromium blog announced that it was terminating support for the H.264 video standard in the HTML5 video tag in favor of the open WebM and Theora codecs, neither of which have seriously taken off yet.
There has been a lot of criticism of this move by the community. H.264 is used by a variety of different video streaming sites and this will drive people back to using Flash as a delivery system for H.264, which will not help the larger goal of replacing Flash with native browser video playback. On the other hand, Firefox will never support H.264, and Firefox has a large percentage of the overall browser market. The people behind the Opera browser are defending the move as well.
The truth is that this may go down as a horrible decision by Google, or drawing a line in the sand that led to greater unity on the web. The biggest issue right now is hardware acceleration. A lot of hardware now has built in H.264 hardware acceleration, which is important for widespread adoption. However, the WebM hardware development team is hard at work on this, and the first commercial chips that support hardware acceleration should be out in the first quarter of this year.
Either way, the support for HTML5 video tag needs a lot of work before it is more universally used, much as we wish that day would come soon.
- Google’s many positions on video codecs (feldmanfile.blogspot.com)
- Google defends H.264 removal from Chrome, says WebM plug-ins coming to Safari and IE9 (engadget.com)
- Google Clarifies Their H.264 Stance, Hands Keys Of Web Video’s Future Back To Flash (techcrunch.com)
- Google Defines the Sides in the HTML5 Video Fight (zdnet.com)