Chrome drops H264 video format, re-ignites HTML 5 Video codec wars

Remember the whole HTML 5 video encoding debate? Google just kicked it off all over again with the announcement that Google Chrome, its web browser that is growing in popularity every week, will deprecate support for the patent-encumbered H264 video encoding format.

The debate on which video format to define as the “standard” method of delivering video to the HTML 5

So what does this support drop mean? Realistically, video producers will most likely have to encode their video in 2 formats to reach the widest number of people on the web. H264 will work with Internet Explorer and Safari, as well as a multitude of mobile devices which have built-in H264 decoding hardware such as iPhone, iPad and many modern smartphones; no WebM hardware decoders are widely available or widely used. Meanwhile, Firefox, Chrome and Opera support WebM and other open-source video encoding formats. Until H264 is removed from mainstream editions of the Chrome browser, nobody is sure exactly what effect it will have. Google managed to force browser maker’s hands towards HTML 5 with the release of the Chrome browser in the first place, but does it have enough installs to force H264 out of the web? Open web advocates certainly think so, but others have called it “unexplainable”. There have also been calls for Google to drop Flash if it so strongly believes in web “open innovation” – now that would be a bombshell.

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