Well take that Apple and Microsoft. Shortly, after Verizon announced it was getting the iPhone 4 Google announced that it was dropping support for H.264 from its Chrome browser, though we are sure the timing was only coincidental. Honestly, this is a hell of a gutsy move from Google who has been emboldened by their WebM codec coming into the marketplace. What makes this gutsy is that both Apple and Microsoft favor H.264 and with them not knowing how developers and the market will receive their codec, it looks like it will make for an interesting time all around.
With this move though Google spurns Safari and IE and aligns itself firmly with Mozilla and Opera when it comes to support simple and open web technologies that aren’t hampered by a bunch of proprietary and patent restricted crap. For those of you that don’t know what a codec is and why its important, let us help. Codecs encode and decode both video and audio which is no easy task to do well. Codecs have to reduce a files size and facilitate streaming media all while making sure it doesn’t over strain networks and the biggest part attempting to maintain as much of the original quality as possible.
Not everyone is happy about this though and I think SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill summed it up best. In his tweets he said “Bottom line: Much more expensive to build video on the Web, and much worse user experience. And only Adobe wins. I want WebM. Badly. But I need time for hardware penetration to happen…This means the cheapest way to develop video on the Web is to use Flash primarily. Before, we could do HTML5 with Flash fallback.” MacAskill makes an excellent point and only time will tell.
So what do all our developer friends out there think, what does this mean to you? Is Google adopting a strategy that will be good for the web in the long run or are they selectively pushing their agenda as it suits them?
Read Google’s full explanation here.