Codec Wars: Google Chrome will drop native H.264 support

Google dropped a fly in over-the-top video's ointment this week, announcing that future builds of its Chrome browser would no longer include native support for H.264, the video codec that connected device manufacturers support and one that carries a lot of weight--Microsoft Internet Explorer and Apple's Safari, for example. H.264 also has pretty much been adopted as a standard for publishers looking to get their content on Connected TVs, Blu-ray players and mobile devices. It's also used by most video cameras.

In its stead, Google is pushing its own, open-source codec, VP8 (WebM), which it rolled out at the Google I/O developers conference in May, and Theora, which also is open source and is used on the Firefox browser.

On its blog, Google said the move was made because it expected "more rapid innovation in the web media platform," and intended to focus its time and investments there.

"We are changing Chrome's HTML5 video support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project," Google Product Manager Mike Jazayeri wrote. "Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies."

Ditching support form H.264 will mean yet another encoding round for most content if publishers want it to play natively in Chrome.

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