Sunday, January 16, 2011
Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home Software" @ 11:00 AM
"Choosing strategies based on what you believe to be long-term benefits is generally a good idea when running a business, but if you manage to alienate the world in the process, the long term may become irrelevant. It was hard to miss the response that accompanied Google's announcement earlier this week that it no longer planned to support the H.264 codec for the HTML5 video tag in its Chrome browser in order to focus on the WebM technology. Depending on what you read, Google is either evil, brilliant, hypocritical, cunning, principled, or confused in dropping support for H.264, a widely used technology for encoding and decoding video files so they are playable on PCs and mobile devices."
This is a brave move by Google, choosing to use WebM in its Chrome browser rather than H.264 which the other browsers are planning to use. Googles reasons are based on the fact that H.264 is controlled by a group of companies called MPEG-LA which pool the patents on these codecs and the license them to people who need to use it. Google are obviously wanting to move away from using a licensed technology in it's browser for an open source one that it controls. Google acquired the WebM codec when it bought On2 Technologies in 2009, and has released WebM to the open source community. It's a brave move by Google considering how popular and well used the H.264 codec is out there, and it will be interesting to see whether companies will switch to using WebM instead.