Last week Google announced that they will be dropping support for H.264 video codec in Google Chrome. This raised some concerns in the tech world so, to address the public, Google has answered some questions regarding this topic to clear things up.
First of all one of the reasons why Google is dropping support for H.264 video codec in Google Chrome, is because of licensing fees — if you didn’t know, web browsers and Operating System vendors have to pay a substantial royalties in order to use and distribute H.264 material –. Today licensing fees may be reasonable for some people, but there is not guarantee for them in the future; this can also complicate, may be not to Google, but to other video companies trying to do a startup and then realize that they cannot afford those fees. Another reason is that Google believes that the web technologies have to be open and as a right now that open alternative is with WebM video codec, which it is free. Additionally, there are web browsers like Firefox and Opera that already jumped in to the wagon to support open WebM and Ogg Theora codecs and they will not support H.264 due to its licensing requirements.
Google also believes that there should be a reasonable baseline video codec that every web browser can support, which makes senses, but that is not true today, and for Google it is clear that never is going to be an agreement to use H.264 as a video codec standard, again because of the requirements in the licensing.
Now, for those people who may be concerned about not being able to watch their favorite YouTube videos on either IE or Safari or other web browsers in the future, don’t worry that Google is going to make sure that everyone will still have a great video experience on the web, by releasing WebM plugin for those web browsers that do not natively support WebM video codec. But remember that this drop of H.264 video codec support, will not affect the support for Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft Silverlight which also support H.264 video codec, these plugins will continue be supported by Google Chrome.
After all, at the end of the day, we all know that either Google like any other company is always going to choose an open source and free standard that works well, over a proprietary technology where you need to pay royalties, that eventually it will not only will benefit them, but it well also may benefit to all of us, because with an open standard we are not limited to the amount of content we consume or distribute over the web; of course there are going to be people who will agree with this and others that wont, just remember that open source and free, it is always good!
Source Chromium Blog