back to article Google axes Jobsian codec in name of 'open'

Google has announced that its Chrome browser will no longer include support for H.264, the patent-encumbered video codec favored by Apple and Microsoft. Future versions of Chrome will only include support for the open source and royalty-free WebM and Ogg Theora codecs. This past May, Google itself open sourced the WebM codec …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flash

    While Flash is not open, Google doesn't pay a royalty to incorporate it into the browser either. The Flash plug-in is free to download and use. The same cannot be said for H.264. So the real difference is free compared to royalties. If H.264 was free to use, this would be a non-issue. Steve needs to lay off the whole Flash thing, it is tiring hearing him repeat the same points over and over.

    1. Ian Davies
      FAIL

      Ignorant? or just disingenuous?

      "While Flash is not open, Google doesn't pay a royalty to incorporate it "

      Google may not pay a royalty, but content producers do when they have to buy Adobe's software to produce Flash-based content.

      H.264 *IS* free to use, for end-users, just like Flash.

      "The Flash plug-in is free to download and use. The same cannot be said for H.264."

      So you've paid for an H.264 browser plugin, have you?

      "If H.264 was free to use"

      Seriously. Please direct me to where all these paying H.264 users are?

      "Steve needs to lay off the whole Flash thing"

      Impressive. You took an article about Google and managed to wheedle in an irrelevant dig at Jobs. Good work. Take the rest of the day off.

      1. pepper

        Actually

        Although the development of flash is not quite open as in opensource, the creation of content does not require anyone to shove money at Adobe. There are plenty of ways to create content for flash without ever using any Adobe product. Even a series of opensource products that support the creation of flash content.

        Flash develop for example is a IDE you can use on windows. The Flex SDK is opensource(Adobe). Then you can also use HAXE and SWFmill on linux to build and program flash movies. And for visual content you can use GIMP if thats your thing. There are also players out that support the flash format. So you really dont have to use any Adobe produced tools/content to do anything with flash.

      2. Wize

        @Ian Davies

        '"If H.264 was free to use"

        Seriously. Please direct me to where all these paying H.264 users are?'

        In the same way the NHS is free. You can use it as many times as you want but you don't have to pay.

        But then you are paying for it. In your taxes. Even if you don't use it, you are still paying.

        So, if the likes of Mozilla want to use it, they either have to swallow the cost or start charging people for Firefox to pass on the codec's cost.

        And if they charged for Firefox, people would be paying even if they didn't watch any online videos.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Flip reversing it

      Flash supports H.264. Some, but no means all, browsers support H.264. As a content provider, you can (in theory) therefore keep a single encoded video and serve it in either a Flash container or an MP4 container as the browser will accept. Per the current version of Flash, you definitely need that H.264 video in order to reach the majority of end users. So whatever licensing issues may apply to Flash, you're already having to navigate them. From that point of view, H.264 as a supported <video> tag codec is a big technical win.

      Of course, I take Google's point that integrating something that is patent encumbered into the core stuff of the web — whether by specification or by common practice — could stifle innovation and raise costs in the future. See also: the GIF debacle. WebM hasn't been litigated yet, which is a worry, but the simple act of muddying the water is likely to be beneficial while the standard is still up in the air. I'm willing to take Google at face value when they say that they expect WebM to be litigation proof; their very selective stands against proprietary technology may be self serving but in this instance Google's best interest aligns with the web's best interest.

      What I don't put any stock in is ad hominem attacks on anyone that calls Google hypocritical. Even supposing that all those calling Google's stance hypocritical are doing so through a vested interest in the Apple ecosystem and that Apple themselves take hypocritical positions, how does that exonerate Google?

      For my money, the people Google are being hypocrites and we're all benefitting as a result.

  2. JaitcH
    WTF?

    H.264 is not 'open', use involves paying bills

    Open means open: open and FREE for all to use.

    Little from Apple. or MS, is truly 'open' unless there is a benefit from them making it open, which happens on occasion and sometimes only under duress.

    1. Rolf Howarth
      Grenade

      What does "open" mean?

      I thought "open" meant free as in speech, not free as in beer?

      The reason Apple don't like Flash is because they have no control over the technology. If everyone uses Flash, and Adobe chooses not to support Flash particularly well on Apple hardware, there is NOTHING Apple can do about it. Having been in that uncomfortable position before, they don't want to be at the mercy of 3rd parties in that way ever again.

      If HTML5 and H.264 are used then Apple are free to provide their own implementation, so if the performance is crap they are in a position to fix it. Even if that involves paying a fee, the point is that it's a level playing field. Anyone and everyone can license the technology subject to the same terms. No one can turn around to Apple and say "we'll only let you license H264 if you bundle X with your computers, or if you agree not to sell in such and such a market, or if you use our decoder chips, or if you pay ten times as high a license fee as our friends Y". I believe that's what "open standard" means in this context.

      1. Ian Davies
        Thumb Up

        Re. "What does "open" mean?"

        This.

        All of this.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Rolf

        >Adobe chooses not to support Flash particularly well on Apple hardware there is NOTHING Apple can do about it

        Since the Flash specification is open they can always write their own player......others have done so.

        1. Rolf Howarth

          Flash is open??

          Are you seriously trying to argue that H.264 is closed, while Flash (which, incidentally, depends on H.264) is open? It's true that Adobe released the SWF specification, but until very recently use of that spec was only licensed for creating software that *exported* to SWF, not for *playback*. Recently they relaxed that restriction, but there are still important parts of the specification such as details of certain of the codecs that are omitted.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Fanboi stupidity by Google will damage HTML5

    Too many groups of fanbois in this modern tech world. Every time fanbois get the better of a situation stupidity like this incurs.

    Google are hypocrites.

    They can't claim they support being open and offering choice only to then turn around and in an adolescent move decide to drop the more popular of the two choices. Fact is Google already pays other licensing fees for other technology they use within Chrome that is also patented so to say this is about licensing is non-sense.

    This whole thing smells of being nothing more than a bit of territorial pissing content to appease WebM fanbois.

    I was grateful for Google's previous support of HTML5's main two video codecs H.264 and WebM for the reason that it encouraged HTML5 adoption and helped towards the advancement of the web and was encouraging to see Microsoft help bring both codecs to both IE9 and Firefox, even if Microsoft would only offer WebM as an optional download. So this about turn which in truth if you strip away the stories they are making up is nothing more than a zealot like act only goes to damage the future of the web.

    One could fairly criticise Safari (and Apple) for not supporting WebM under Safari but this is not about Apple, this was Google's action, so to talk about Apple is a deflection of the impact of Google's actions here. It is not about Flash either as Flash is not a part of HTML5 technology but it is ironic Google who now has an Anti-H.264 stance still supports and bundles Flash which supports the codec itself.

    There are numerous sites which support H.264 as an alternative to Flash, as one site has already pointed it this will only double their costs to support both WebM and H.264 and none will drop H.264 support as this would then effectively kill support for HTML5 video for IE and Safari, Safari on iOS devices.

    Furthermore sites that had the relatively comprehensive list of IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari that could all use HTML5 with H.264 for video now may be forced due to this (financial/technical/etc reasons) to drop all HTML5 support and forcing the web's adoption of HTML5 to go in reverse.

    So thank you Google for screwing up the future of the web all to appease some fanbois, reducing choice and doing something which had no real technical merit.

    1. Cameron Colley

      RE: Fanboi stupidity by Google will damage HTML5

      So, what you're saying is that the future of the internet should be that only those who can afford to pay royalties to MPEG LA should be able to post video? Because that is the main point here.

      Apple thinks, not surprisingly, that HTML5 should force people to pay to license H.264 and that consumers should have the possibility of having free support for viewers removed at the discretion of MPEG LS. Google, on the other hand, wants a free CODEC to be used so that nobody needs to pay license fees to make HTML5 pages.

      As for Flash player -- it is currently a necessary evil and nothing more. That said, is it necessary to pay Adobe to use Flash on your website? I'm afraid I don't know as I'm not a web designer.

    2. Dante
      FAIL

      eh?

      ...and making a codec with a royality price tag attached a standard is a good thing for the web how?

    3. /\/\j17
      Jobs Halo

      Spot the follower of Saint Jobs...

      "Furthermore sites that had the relatively comprehensive list of IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari that could all use HTML5 with H.264 for video now may be forced due to this (financial/technical/etc reasons) to drop all HTML5 support and forcing the web's adoption of HTML5 to go in reverse."

      Since when has Firefox (currently THE most popular web brower in Europe*) supported H.264...?

      *http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/01/04/firefox_just_beats_internet_explorer_europe_market_share/

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      H264 costs money

      If you feel that strongly about it then why don't you offer to pay the H264 royalties on behalf of Google? If you're prepared to chip-in then I'm sure they'll reconsider their decision.

      Google and many other people and companies are not dropping H264 just for a laugh. And not just to piss you off. The problem is that H264 is not free (it costs real money, or at least the consortium controlling it is suggesting that it will cost real money in a few years time). If there is a lower cost or zero cost alternative, then Google (as a commercial company), or indeed anyone else, would be bonkers not to consider it. They have considered it and made the decision that H264 costs more than the alternative. What's the argument againt this?

      1. JimboG
        Happy

        Not because H.264 costs money

        H.264 does cost, but I doubt this is the reasons for it being dropped.

        This has to be seen in the wider context of the war between Google and Apple. Google needs to lock people into its proprietary services (paid search and advertising, mainly) as this is where they make their money. Apple threatens this revenue stream as the iOS platform might, some time soon, choose to direct searchers to other engines (Bing supported added recently). Further (and more fundamental), iOS users use search less than those on desktop browsers, instead using apps to pull content from the web. On top of this, Apple is challenging Google in its core market of advertising, further threatening to lock google out of the lucrative segment represented by iOS users.

        This is a push by Google to erect a wall around its web services and lock-out iOS users. They're already doing this. For example, the new (and very cool looking) Maps only work on Android right now. If Google can reserve access to its web services to users of its money-making products, it its market position is strengthened.

        My guess is that Apple has anticipated this and will soon roll-out their own versions of Google web services (a Mobile Me YouTube alternative being the obvious one).

        So, Google's move it to shore-up their threatened business model by undermining how far their services can be used on iOS devices. Far from being a move to 'openness', it's a move that steals the language and work of the Open Source movement to support the completely closed services from which Google makes its money. This is a tough reality to accept for many people, but very clearly true.

        1. DZ-Jay

          @JimboG

          I agree with your post. However, I would like to add one key point that everybody seems to be missing: while Google is concentrating on "The Web" as the sole source of content for consumption (GoogleTV, I'm looking squarely at you!), Apple seems more preoccupied with the inter-working of various media devices for this same purpose. In a very true sense, iOS devices form a rich ecosystem that encompasses *much* more than the Web. Tablets, television sets, HD movies, personal computers, content streaming, DVDs, etc. are all treated mostly equally in this ecosystem.

          Now, the key point is that, outside the World Wide Web, the main codec for digital video used--and the de facto standard--is H.264. There is no question about this. Thousands of products, devices and applications alike, support this standard, which enriches and simplifies the experience of streaming and transferring video between them. More importantly, it opens it to any manufacturer of devices and to all creators of content, equally.

          But Google makes no money outside the Web. Their core business is advertising within the World Wide Web. Therefore, it is in their most pressing interest to disrupt these external ecosystems, and promote the Web as the centralized point of access to content, while simultaneously segregating it from outside access (come on, do you think a name like "WebM" suggests it's focus on any other source?).

          Make no mistake: this is purely a move against Apple. It is no coincidence that they chose to keep support for Flash--the single technology disavowed by Steve Jobs in iOS. By removing H.264 from their browser and promoting technologies not readily supported outside the Web, they are attempting to force content producers to support their "Die Web ist Alles" model with the expectation that Apple users will come back to use "their" Web, and thus extend their advertising reign and cast Apple's ecosystem to irrelevancy in one single master stroke.

          That all this is done under the guise of "open" and "free" is not only disingenuous, but downright malicious. Google fans should think carefully about their allegiances, despite Apple's intentions and motivations.

          -dZ.

          1. Cameron Colley

            @JimboG

            You're probably correct about Google's motivation -- but I would argue that in this case the end result, that WebM has been made completely free of patent and royalties and that it may end up the CoDeC of choice for HTML5, is a good one for everyone. Regardless of Google's eventual aim it is hard to see how having an open CoDeC as the standard could harm Mozilla or Opera, for example.

            @DZ-Jay: You may be right to some degree. However, if you were to look into WebM you would find that it is a container format and that the equivalent to H.264 is called VP8 and that AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Qualcomm and Intel have all suggested they may include hardware acceleration* for this in upcoming chips. So, far from being web only, this is something which everyone but Apple can enjoy -- well, in fact, Apple could enjoy it too if they felt like it.

            *Whatever that means -- I'm inclined to agree with Philip Storry and ask just what this really means.

            1. JimboG

              WebM in itself isn't bad, but the strategy is

              @Cameron Colley

              "but I would argue that in this case the end result, that WebM has been made completely free of patent and royalties and that it may end up the CoDeC of choice for HTML5, is a good one for everyone."

              I take the point that a patent unencumbered WebM might not be a bad thing...putting aside the fact that it seems certain to be challenged by the big patent owners to see if they can ring some royalties out of it, the big question is if you want the Google Everywhere strategy to succeed. Google's model relies on near-monopoly for the business's survival. Apple's model relies on convincing the top, say, 25% of every market that they produce the best products. I feel much less threatened by Apple's model than Google's. Much like MS, Google's pretty much given up on competing on quality and instead has moved to competing on FUD and locking-out the competition.

              Two things give me hope that google will fail. One; they're not very good at being lock-in merchants. This WebM decision smells like a U-turn waiting to happen. As others have said, there's so much momentum behind H.264 that it will be extremely hard to shift to WebM anytime soon. Two; the industry is wise to MS-style tactics. Never again will companies be so naive as to let one company control all the standards (I''m not suggesting that companies in the 80s and 90s acquiesced to MS, but that they were unable to stop them).

    5. Martijn Bakker
      FAIL

      @AC: Fanboi stupidity

      You are missing the point.

      Flash has been the standard technology for video on the web for the last ten years. HTML5 video creates a possibility for another technology to be the next new standard.

      Google's own WebM is supported by Chrome, Opera and Mozilla (something like 50% of actual browser usage, depending on statistics you use). H.264 was supported by IE, Safari and Chrome (something like 62% of actual browser usage). Thus H.264 was in the better position because Google Chrome supported it. Google's own browser support for H.264 was set to undermine Google's efforts on behalf of WebM.

      By dropping support for H.264, Google has reduced support for H.264 to about 50%. This gives WebM a fighting chance (and insures that the battle for the HTML5 video standard on the web will rage on for another three years at least).

      Regardless of fanboi stupidity, it makes perfect sense for Google not to undermine it's own investment in WebM.

    6. Graham Dawson

      Because HTML 5 is all about video

      Get a grip!

      1. hexx
        Thumb Down

        you've got it wrong

        h264 for is standard and has been for several years. it's free to use for end users. video content creators need to pay royalties (and this also depends on the nr of distributions - check mpegla website for details)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down

          @Hex

          >it's free to use for end users

          Nope. Its only free for Internet Broadcast AVC Video, anything else and MPEG-LA requires a royalty.

  4. J 37

    Amen

    "What we can say is that you should always be wary of anyone who uses the word "open""

    Particularly from any company with shareholders.

  5. Oninoshiko
    FAIL

    wait, what?

    "Then MacAskill tweeted again: "I'm left with two choices: Gulp and double my costs on an unknown tech, or return to Flash as primary solution. Ugh. Thanks, Google.""

    Umm... last I looked there are a number of browers (ok, 2, but that is a number!!) which do not support H.264, which means MacAskill always had this problem but choose to ignore it before now. Why doesn't he just ignore Crome like he has been (apperently) ignoring FF (on some platforms)?

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  6. Michael 5

    Are you serious?

    you cannot be serious? So.... and open source kernel, tools, browser, server applications, and protocols are not counting? You truly have no clue (aka ignorance).

    http://www.opensource.apple.com/

    I am not trying to defend anyone..... but man.... lets have some honest and sincere debates. People on the net these days are just whacked.

    1. Bilgepipe
      Jobs Halo

      Yes, they are serious

      "I am not trying to defend anyone..... but man.... lets have some honest and sincere debates. People on the net these days are just whacked."

      You'll never get that with the anti-Apple-tards, who seem to think this whole issue is down to Jobs and his Army of Dark Minions because he spoke it one time. Just look at the downvotes - you were destined for a drumming just for posting an Apple URL, let alone trying to present reasoned debate.

      "Waahh, Jobs, waahh, walled garden, do what I want, waahhh," etc, etc.

      1. Steven Knox
        FAIL

        @Bilgepipe: Serious?

        Michael 5's post consisted of:

        A question directed at someone for something they said, without much clarification as to whom and what it was that they said,

        A series of ad hominem attacks,

        and a single URL apparently intended to show that Apple is an open-source angel, but which actually serves to illustrate the point that Apple, like pretty much all tech companies today, use open source pretty much only when it's convenient for them -- and then make sure to keep key parts to themselves.

        All of this misses the general point of the article and relevant comments, which are about open video standards, not about open source.

        So the "reasoned debate" is where...?

  7. Ray Simard

    Google has it right

    "this undermines Google's claims of openness. 'Dropping H.264 but keeping Flash makes them 'utter hypocrites''"

    Nonsense!

    Flash is an add-on, not part of a technology defined by an Internet specification. It is NOT part of HTML--any version. As such, it's technology is arbitrary.

    Google is not "keeping" Flash at all. As it and all browsers should, it is keeping the support for <object> and <embed> which makes it possible for arbitrary add-ons like Flash to work. There is no Flash technology in the browser to be removed; it's in the plug-in.

    HTML5 IS an Internet specification, and one that browsers must support. That is an entirely different case. Supporting H.264 means supporting a de facto requirement for patented technology to creep into the open specs of the Internet or risk compliant video failing to play in compliant browsers.

    1. James Le Cuirot
      Stop

      Safari on the desktop

      Not only this but we're comparing apples with oranges here! Have Apple blocked Flash in the desktop version of Safari? NO!

    2. Matt Bradley
      Thumb Up

      Standards and patented tech

      "Supporting H.264 means supporting a de facto requirement for patented technology to creep into the open specs of the Internet or risk compliant video failing to play in compliant browsers."

      <- THIS

      This is precisely the point. Furthermore, if somebody with influence doesn't act, we'll be looking another generation of open source platforms / browsers that are locked out of HTML 5 video by simple merit the the fact that Apple and MS have used their influence to ensure that a patented codec is in widespread use, rather than an open one.

      I applaud Google for have the balls to do this. As has been pointed out, it is in their interests, as they have Android and Chrome OS to consider, both of which will really need to default to WebM if their are going to remain open and also natively support HTML5 video.

      From a wider POV, it is in all our interests. What ON EARTH in the point of moving away from a closed proprietary plugin (Flash) for video, to a close proprietary codec which has somehow infiltrated its way into an open standard?

      That's going from bad to worse, surely?

    3. Ian Davies
      FAIL

      Numpty

      "Google is not "keeping" Flash at all."

      Chrome ships with its own embedded, sandboxed version of the Flash plugin.

      What would you call it?

    4. Bilgepipe
      FAIL

      Fail

      "There is no Flash technology in the browser to be removed; it's in the plug-in."

      Nice try, but Chrome has Flush sandboxed into it. Google = hypocrisy.

    5. rciafardone
      Thumb Up

      You nailed!

      Exactly. Flash and H264 are in 2 different categories.

      People seam to forget what "royalty" means...

      Examples:

      If I have to develop a program using VS2008, I have to acquire the license for it, once. If tomorrow I have to make another program that requires me to use VS2008 I don't have to buy it again.

      If i were a music company, i would have to pay a percentage of each song sold, always. If that is not bad enough, i would also have to pay a percentage to the owner of the "encoding" FOR EACH SONG SOLD, not just for the right to encode it the first time...

  8. MacroRodent Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    WebM already well adopted, thanks to Android!

    Which desktop browsers do not support WebM is going to get increasingly irrelevant! Android devices (both phones, pads and notebooks) are spreading like the kudzu, and they support WebM (except for very old Android releases). This is why Google feels confident it can make this radical move.

    I predict that Apple and Microsoft are going to have to swallow their pride and start supporting WebM properly as well, otherwise their browsers get marginalized.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Once again

      Once again Google choose the inferior option (just like using s VM in Android is inferior) just because it is open.

      H.264 has hardware decoding on many devices.

      When did everyone ditch MP3 and use alternatives due to licence fees? oh right, that'll be never then.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Funny you should say that...

        If Google do aim to make the browser completely closed technology free, the next to go will be MP3 and AAC support.

        You only have to look at the spec differences between Chrome and Chromium to see how things might end up.

        http://code.google.com/p/chromium/wiki/ChromiumBrowserVsGoogleChrome

      2. Ocular Sinister
        WTF?

        @Giles Jones

        "When did everyone ditch MP3 and use alternatives due to licence fees? oh right, that'll be never then."

        When hard disks became big enough to encode everything as FLAC, which would be several years ago now.

        I don't use a portable media player much these days, but transcoding to ogg while copying files to my iRiver is seamless. Most of the time I listen to music at work via Slimserver. Again, seamless transcoding to ogg.

        I can't think of any reason to have your music collection in mp3 these days.

        1. Chigaimasmaro

          Its in the hardware

          FLAC and OGG are nice open source formats. I have my entire CD collection ripped as FLAC on my media server. But you know.. I keep an MP3 version of that collect on my desktop PC, because 100% of the portable players on the market play MP3 files, I can't think of one that doesn't have that ability. No extra re-encoding from FLAC to MP3 if a friend wants a song. Even though its only seconds, I'd rather not spend time doing it.

          MP3 is going to be around for a long long time just like the CD, heck even Vinyl is still being pressed. OGG came out the gate too slow and too late in the game. And now both it and FLAC don't have hardware decoding. I don't see anyone saying anything about adding that to their processors or chipsets anytime soon, even though their both open formats. Its a shame too, because back some years ago I was doing a FLAC / Musepack combination , but since MPC files aren't supported anywhere, I moved to the MP3 format.

          True hard drives are big enough for FLAC collections, but it seems we are putting .H264 HD-like movies on them. Its everywhere and everyone already knows how to use it. FLAC, OGG, and WebM... not so much.

          1. Greg J Preece

            Buy proper hardware?

            Both my phones, my DAP, all my computers, all play OGG Vorbis and FLAC. Just quit buying the crap stuff. ;-)

      3. Charles 9 Silver badge

        And soon WebM will, too.

        Both nVidia and AMD are prepping hardware updates to allow hardware WebM decoding.

      4. Ray Simard

        @Once again

        Nobody is trying to build anything into an Internet specification that results in a dependency on MP3.

    2. Ian Davies
      Troll

      "except for very old Android releases"

      What, like on phones from Sony that are only 6 months old and aren't getting any new updates?

      1. Dave Murray
        Thumb Down

        Mutton dressed as lamb

        Just because Sony were stupid enough to use an old release on a new phone and you were stupid enough to buy one doesn't make Android 1.6 any newer. I really liked the look of the X10 but v1.6 vs v2.2 is a no brainer so I ended up with a Galaxy S.

        1. Ian Davies
          FAIL

          @Dave Murray

          Who said I bought one?

          Please try and keep your prejudices and fevered hallucinations from encroaching on what people have actually said.

      2. Greg J Preece

        Are you referring to the X10?

        "What, like on phones from Sony that are only 6 months old and aren't getting any new updates?"

        Riiiight, except that it got an update, and it now runs 2.1, and they're apparently planning a 2.2 release for this year.

        Please try and keep your fevered hallucinations from encroaching on what has actually happened.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Ermmm

      ...Mic rosoft as stated many,many,many,many times will allow WebM as it does with many, many,many,many other codecs.

      But hey let's bash MS for the sake of it. Facts? Pah who needs them!

      Read the article? Nah that's for idiots.

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge

        Not by default

        Re "Mic rosoft as stated many,many,many,many times will allow WebM as it does with many, many,many,many other codecs. But hey let's bash MS for the sake of it. Facts? Pah who needs them!"

        There is a big difference between allowing and supporting. Of course you have always been able to use any codec on Windows for which someone has written a dll for, without Microsoft objecting to it, even back in the Windows 3.1 + Video for Windows days (been there). But I don't think any virgin installation of Windows + IE supports WebM. When that happens, I will say MS supports WebM. Not earlier.

    4. ThomH Silver badge

      Net Applications would seem to disagree

      Android is irrelevant in terms of browser market share. Chrome is the big hitter, and rightly the focus of the story. Per Net Applications, Chrome is the third most popular browser, pushing 10% of the entire market for browsing the web. All the Android devices put together manage just 0.4%. Chrome + Android is about double Safari + iOS, but with the caveat that Chrome (and, usually, Safari, though on some devices you have to install it yourself now) can fall back on Flash support.

      iOS versus Android? 1.69% to 0.4%, with iOS up 0.33% during November, Android up 0.09% but by a larger proportion compared to where it started. Neither significant enough in numbers terms to really have an effect.

  9. Mage Silver badge
    Badgers

    convergence

    Virtually all Countries use H.264 for HD Broadcasts. Many Countries use H.264 for SD broadcasts.

    Anything with a TV tuner is likely to have H.264 codec. It may not be "open" but it's more a standard than Flash is.

    This is some sort of commercial or political decision for who knows what reason. It's not because of patents.

    1. Dave Murray
      FAIL

      Next

      I wonder what codec Flash uses... oh yeah H.264. So it's just as standard as those TV tuners you were talking about. Next argument please...

      1. Ocular Sinister

        @Dave Murray

        And in the near future it will support VP8 too: http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplatform/2010/05/adobe_support_for_vp8.html

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge
      WTF?

      Correct me if I'm wrong...

      ...but isn't the HDTV spec pretty old and thus uses *MPEG-2* as the video codec of choice (because the newer codecs were nascent then)?

      1. A Known Coward
        Stop

        You're wrong ...

        With only minor exceptions DVB using countries have all opted for H.264 as the codec of choice for HD, in an mpeg-ts container. It's true that SD uses mpeg2 in many cases, and it will likely remain that way in the UK for some time as changing it now would mean all those existing SD-only Set-Top boxes becoming paperweights. Expect it to change in the longer term, switching codec will allow for more channels to be crammed into the available bandwidth*.

        In ATSC land, USA mostly, they opted for mpeg2 for HD and unfortunately for residents there, a lower overall picture quality as a result. For example, BBC HD started broadcasting at ~21Mbps using H.264 but in the USA the maximum possible bitrate for HD is ~19Mbps and they are stuck with the less compressible mpeg2.

        All that said, what is broadcast via Terrestrial, Satellite or Cable is not really suitable for the mobile at this time. Firstly the resolution, bitrate and encoding parameters are too high, even if the decoders in those devices could handle these profiles it would drain battery life too quickly. Secondly an hour of broadcast quality H.264 is 6-8GB, few phones have the storage to keep anything more than 1 episode of your favourite show at most, so again, re-encoding to a smaller resolution, higher compression and lower overall quality is necessary. So the argument of convergence is moot, you need to re-encode for the mobile anyway. Broadcast quality H.264 is definitely too much for the internet, on the average connection you could not dream of reliably broadcasting video of that bitrate. So if you still need to re-encode to a lower quality, then what practical advantage does H.264 offer over VP8 (WebM)?

        Well there is one area where H.264 has the edge for web-broadcast video, hardware decoding support. It's hard to argue against this, H.264 is ahead of VP8 in this respect, but it's not surprising since it's been around longer. In a very short space of time we will start seeing hardware decoding for VP8 and yes those older devices will be redundant, and yes that will cause some people heartache just as HD-DVD vs Blu-ray, Betamax vs VHS et al have done in the past. The important thing here is that MPEG-LA won't have complete control over video creation and distribution on the internet (and all other platforms) for the next 15-20 years. If MPEG-LA revoked their patents then H.264 could and would be the natural choice for all video, but that isn't going to happen, such patent pools represent not just an income for Apple, MS and others but the power to manipulate an entire market.

        *Sadly we're unlikely to see them use that bandwidth to instead improve SD quality/resolution on the 'minor' channels. The viewers have failed to revolt against terrible picture quality on certain Freeview channels, so broadcasters feel that they can get away with serving up such crap.

  10. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    That's good news

    Android appears to be the best thing to happen to Google.

    At least now we have Mozilla and Google with a reason to keep the web free and open, Microsoft and Apple on the other hand could be a problem in future if they keep trying to buy open source names.

  11. StooMonster

    Hardware support

    Correct me if I'm wrong but doesn't all our GPU hardware be it in desktops, laptops, networks, phones support H.264 decoding in hardware whereas none do for WebM?

    1. hexx
      Thumb Down

      really?

      maybe you forgot that chrome is using webkit - apple's open source initiative, wake up!!!

      1. MacroRodent Silver badge
        Boffin

        webkit origins

        Apple did not invent Webkit. Its core code came originally from the KDE, a desktop environment project on Linux. Apple adopted their code and developed it further.

        Nothing wrong with this, of course, this is how open source is supposed to benefit the world. Just remember to give credit where it is due. And I suspect Apple would not have released their webkit version to the world, if it weren't for the GNU license of its original code that required publication.

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          @MacroRodent

          "I suspect Apple would not have released their webkit version to the world, if it weren't for the GNU license of its original code that required publication."

          This wouldn't seem to fit with Apple's recent release of Clang and their older decisions to open source stuff like Darwin and the entirety of WebKit — including the Javascript interpreter that they developed from scratch and various other bits additional to the stuff inherited from KHTML.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      hardware support

      I've got 8 pcs's running here - not a single one has hardware support for h.264 Do I have to upgrade all my machines when some organisation tries to buy an open standard?

    3. Philip Storry
      Headmaster

      Hardware acceleration

      Consider yourself corrected, or at least challenged to prove your point!

      I've seen this argument time and time again, and I always ask for the same thing: Proof.

      There are specialised h.264 decoding parts. They're usually in TVs and the like, because there you don't want to have to put too complex a software system in them.

      But when people say "hardware acceleration", they usually think something along the lines of "the processor coordinates data transfer via DMA or some other bus to a special chip which decodes the video and puts it directly onto the screen".

      Yep, those special chips in dumb devices like a TV do that, and do it at very low power and heat output.

      In a phone or on a laptop? There is no block of hardware dedicated to h.264 in that manner. That would be nuts, because it restricts you.

      Instead, there are blocks of specialised computation that aren't much different to MMX, SSE, and so forth. That's what people are talking about when they talk hardware acceleration on a more complex device.

      Think about it - otherwise, the iPhone/Android "h.264 chip" would need to be connected directly to the orientation sensor, and would be doing the animation AND resizing when you turn the device from one orientation to another. That's one heck of a complex bit of hardware when compared to the original vision of "chip which does video".

      Basically, if the h.264 decoder uses them, then so can WebM. It's just a matter of doing so. Which has already been done for the most part - some of the first patches I heard of to the decoder were ARM assembler versions to improve speed, for example.

      Hardware acceleration isn't an issue unless you have a device you can't get a software decoder update for. And the device manufacturers & developers have pretty much sorted that. (Although I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Apple to join in!)

      There are still dedicated "dumb" hardware decoders out there, in camcorders and TVs. But for the use cases you mentioned (desktops, laptops, phones) WebM can be accelerated, and not without much hassle.

      It's down to the willingness of the vendor, and most seem willing. Check the WebM wikipedia article for a nice list...

      Of course, I could be wrong here. If you know otherwise, then I want proof. I want a spec sheet(s) that show that a common GPU has a dedicated in-silicon decoder of a dumb nature, which could not be reprogrammed to do a new size/orientation/output destination or be partially used for WebM decoding.

      Without wishing to sound snotty, that places the ball in your court. I've put forth my understanding, and you now have to prove me wrong. Which I would welcome, by the way.

      I've been looking for that magic spec sheet since WebM was first announced, and haven't found it yet. Nobody has presented it to me, depsite numerous challenges to do so. I'm not yet tempted to call the hardware acceleration argument total balls, but I'm pretty close to it!

      1. JaimieV

        I don't know about the rest, but this:

        "Think about it - otherwise, the iPhone/Android "h.264 chip" would need to be connected directly to the orientation sensor, and would be doing the animation AND resizing when you turn the device from one orientation to another."

        is incorrect. The h.264 decoder outputs a series of bitmaps, which the 2D/3D renderer/compositor engine then stretches and flips to the right position on the screen buffer. The compositor may be directly connected with the orientation sensor, but the decoder certainly doesn't have to be. Exactly the same if the h.264 renderer is software.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Not quite.

        "Think about it - otherwise, the iPhone/Android "h.264 chip" would need to be connected directly to the orientation sensor, and would be doing the animation AND resizing when you turn the device from one orientation to another."

        Think back to the old days of PC DVD video decoder cards. Now, some piggybacked on the VGA signal, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about decoder chips that fed into the video chip's Frame Buffer, a special space specifically meant for video playback. The chip could then deal with the frame buffer as it could.

        Modern video chips still rely on that technique: transferring the decoded frames into the video chip's memory--usually to the frame buffer--where the video chip would take over.

        Now, in running with your line of thinking, yes, modern PC video cards do not carry codec-specific hardware. They either let the CPU or special GPGPU code handle the decoding, but in a mobile environment where space and power are limited, the chips could still come into play. That said, both nVidia and AMD seem eager to add the support, which probably means it won't take too much of a stretch to take an H.264 chip and add on the bits needed to let it handle VP8 as well.

  12. Ian Davies
    Dead Vulture

    So let's see...

    H.264 is licensed by a consortium of 29 different companies, but according to El Reg it's the "Jobsian codec".

    Theora/WebM are framed as "unencumbered" even though that status has never actually been tested or proven. Watch this space, methinks.

    Apparently, "Apple takes the cake" when it comes to hypocrisy, but the Register article you link to in an attempt to justify this statement actually declares "Google, it seems, is the real villain of his piece" (referring to the opinions of Mozilla's Chris Blizzard, upon whose opinions the article is largely based.)

    While Apple has indeed been selective of which web technologies they've supported, so far they haven't put forward pseudo claims of openness as justification. The main reason Apple didn't support Flash was that Adobe couldn't demonstrate it working on Mobile devices. *Famously* so, to use The Register's own parlance.

    Once again, Goggle isn't "open". It uses Open Source software as a convenience to drive views of its adverts, delivered through decidedly closed and opaque systems and algorithms.

  13. Anthony Shortland
    Thumb Up

    hehe

    brilliant move there by google.

    So iphone/ipads are brilliant devices because of their wonderful support of the future - HTML5. No one needs flash. Flash is dead.

    Yet now no one is going to use HTML5 for video because of such a split in the use of the codecs.

    Google has well and truely screwed apple over on this one!

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. JaimieV

      And who also loses out?

      The buying public. Great.

    2. Chigaimasmaro
      Thumb Up

      Thanks for making my day

      I was digging through the comments to see if there was someone that mentioned it before I posted the same idea, but you beat me too it.

  15. Bad Beaver
    Paris Hilton

    What is this "Chrome" thing?

    What? A browser? Thank you, I already have three.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      What! Only 3

      I have 5 (IE, FF, Opera, Safari and Chrome). And to be honest Chrome (or rather IRON) p*sses all over the other 4 (in my opinion). But, if I need to use another one to watch video then so be it. For me, the winner in this p*ssing contest will be the one that allows ME to watch all content.

      1. Disco-Legend-Zeke
        Pint

        Whatif...

        ...the url could launch the page in the appropriate* browser.

        Better yet, an app that manages your browsers, and pops the best guess browser window to the front.

        H.264 will never die. its built into our television infrastructure. But the patents will; 17 years is almost a lifetime when you are 18**. When you are 68++ yrs old, its but a moment.

        In a mere decade we will have an open, free, well speced de facto standard with commodity silicon. This is how the patent system is supposed**** to work .

        Great post AC.

        *when elephants dance, the mice hide. When it's a p*ssing contest, a Mac or an umbrella is also recommended.

        **no hypothetical youts were harmed in the making of this post.

        ***I'll be 69 on St. Valentines Day. Please hoist a pint.

        ****sadly, this is an exception these days.

  16. Yautja_Cetanu
    Jobs Horns

    Correct me if I'm wrong

    @AC

    "act is Google already pays other licensing fees for other technology they use within Chrome that is also patented so to say this is about licensing is non-sense."

    My understanding is that the problem with H.264 being the codec that everyone uses would be that everyone would have to pay for licensing fees. Google can afford to pay licensing fees so if its only chrome that has to, its fine. But with H.264 I thought if I have a website in drupal that allows users to upload video and then manipulate it (lets say change the bitrate online for example) then I would also have to pay licensing fees just as someone who hosts a website (or distributes my drupal module)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    my dad can fight your dad.

    While it is always a joy to see the back and forth blaming of the downfall of the internet on one company, us little sheeple should see the cause of this whole mess as the failure to agree a standard for HTML5.

    Standards are really quite important and every company is guilty of trying to make their tech the standard, MS did it with the browser wars and Apple is trying to do it now with various file formats and stuff like the iTunes store (which should be a website not a desktop closed platform).

    Carry on defending these corporations but remember your value to them is as a paying customer not as anything else.

  18. Eddie 4

    Kettle calling the pot black

    Its all a bit rich for Apple to call Google to the bar for failing to support "open" standards

  19. Tom 15
    Grenade

    Nonsense

    It's not hypocrisy for Chrome to drop h.264 but keep Flash... Flash is a current generation technology and HTML5 is a future technology. It's absolutely fine to say that you'll keep the closed current generation technology when the current web is so dependent on it but it's another to say you'll support closed technologies for the next generation when trying to implement an open format.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Agree to Disagree

      Since Microsoft and Apple are both members of MPEG-LA and have monetary interest in pushing H.264, they'll NEVER agree to support WebM. It'd be like shooting themselves in the foot, especially in front of their shareholders.

      Therefore, we have two irrevocably conflicted sides, with each side having a reason to win. That's why the agreement for the HTML5 codec collapsed. The only way it would be settled permanently is in a browser war. And there's likely no predicting the winner(s) should a browser war heat up now.

      1. Rattus Rattus

        "no predicting the winner"?

        I think we can predict the winner. It'll be whichever browser lets people watch cats doing stupid things on Youtube.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Google owns YouTube

          The only thing keeping Google from converting every last video they possess to WebM is time and the need to support Flash (which currently doesn't support WebM--yet). What do you think Google would do if push came to shove?

  20. MarkOne
    Thumb Up

    Good move

    Good to see Google forcing peoples hand. Right now you would be dumb to encode web video in H.264 when WebM is becoming so widespread.

    This move signals WebM being the defacto standard for web video. I think I just heard Microsoft and Apple shit themselves.

    Won't be long before H.264 HTML5 is removed from YouTube too, and WebM being the only option (in addition to flash, for the forseeable future at least).

    We don't need licence hobbled codecs when there are better and more open options.

  21. CheesyTheClown
    WTF?

    Why is this still a battle. There is an easy solution

    Give the user the choice.

    The solution to the problem is actually very easy. There are actually several solutions.

    1) Make a fallback mechanism based on mime types of media. In the video tag, make it so there is a list of files and their MIME types. If there is no supported MIME type available, then the browser vendor's web page explaining how to make one of the supported video types should show.

    2) Pluggable architecture. That's a lot of work right? Nope. It's there already. In fact, it's easier for most of the browser vendors just to support everything. They actually have to try in order to remove support for a codec.

    Linux browsers tend to use one of the linux video architectures for codecs. ffmpeg, gstreamer, vlc, etc... all of them support webm and H.264. All of them have dynamic pipeline construction support. I think Mozilla might have rolled their own, but come on, it's easy enough to add support for external codecs.

    Opera uses GStreamer on all platforms. GStreamer has elements on all platforms to wrap the native systems' codec libraries. So if you compile that element, you instantly get support for all the codecs on the platform. No need to ship new ones and no need for the browser to even know what codec is being used.

    Safari uses Quicktime. There's a webm codec for quicktime, therefore Safari supports Webm unless Apple specifically disabled the support out of spite.

    Chrome uses the native systems video engines (so far as I know). They ALL support H.264 AND WebM.

    Internet Explorer uses DirectShow... therefore there's support for WebM AND H.264 available. (just install the codecs)

    I can go on with the lesser browsers, but let's be blunt. The only thing that is missing from the systems in general is a precompiled webm codec. No problem. Include the webm codec with the browser and make it freely available for download for the systems which don't include it. Problem solved.

    It should be an issue between the content provider and the user what codec will be used. In fact, choosing WebM over H.264 or vise versa is stupid as new codecs will come out and they will need to be supported. H.265 is in the works. On2 guys will want to make something newer and better similar to H.265. So, there shouldn't be a debate over this. Just let the user and the provider choose whether they want to use H.264 or WebM.

    When did it become the W3C's, Google's, Mozilla's etc... job to tell use what technology we have to use. Let me reiterate the fact that these browser vendors (with the exception of Opera who would have to include another .DLL file from GStreamer) are actively removing support for the codecs. It's not an issue of adding support, it's a matter that instead of making it easy for the user to understand how to use the browser to play a certain video, the browser vendor as a matter of forcing their principles on others is forcing the user to choose which soon to be obsolete technology to support.

  22. ArkhamNative
    Alert

    Royalties? Spotlight!

    If Google *does* have to pay to include H.264 in Chrome, that's a huge point that the article should have included.

    On the other side, this moves Ogg even more into the spotlight, and H.264 owners have already said they suspect there may be some patent violations there. With Google backing Ogg, H.264 group may now see a pocketbook it can pick, as well as an adversary it can weaken. (FWIW I think the whole patent corporate wargame thing has gotten way out of hand, but it happens.)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Troll

    now if only Adobe would remove _free_ h.264 support from Flash

    read the title

  24. Greg J Preece

    Hypocrites?

    Surely the only reason they're running WebM in the first place is so they can eventually ditch Flash? More bloody doublespeak from the Cupertino crowd. They're just afraid they're going to lose, and we'll actually end up with a real open web, not their twisted, patented definition.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      But it can bite back.

      Since Google now OWNS the On2 patents, they have their own pool of stuff that MPEG-LA could potentially be in violation. That's why MPEG-LA hasn't made any overt moves: because unlike small fry, Google can put up a fight and actually possesses the means to counterattack (some of On2's patents PREDATE MPEG-4 and H.264). If MPEG-LA sues for patent infringement, Google could COUNTERsue for patent infringement by MPEG-LA. The inevitable result would be a patent war, and since no one knows the full extent of either side's patent pools, MPEG-LA could potentially lose.

    2. Steven Knox
      Thumb Up

      ^This

      Can we upvote more than once? A few hundred times, perhaps?

    3. Chigaimasmaro

      thanks

      I would vote for this again and again and again.. but I can't.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    If adobe

    deliver what they state here last May,

    http://blogs.adobe.com/flashplatform/2010/05/adobe_support_for_vp8.html

    H.264 may really go and F off, at least from browsers/HTML5

  26. myhandle
    Thumb Up

    It's a good thing

    The only people that have a problem with it are the people who could never envisionage themselves in a position to wish to provide video content on a website and hence the costs are of little concern to them. Small entrepeneurs would tend to welcome it.

    1. DZ-Jay

      Re: If adobe

      And since the technology world is moving closer towards convergence and rich media ecosystems, how would "The Web" play along when it is incompatible with the rest? Google wants to stick everything on the Web, while everybody else is trying to unite the experience. TV sets and other non-webby devices already support H.264 in hardware, and they are heavily invested in this.

      -dZ.

  27. AnonymousDareDevil

    Reality check

    Everyone knows that the future of the Web is media, especially video. Some might even say that's a future already present.

    It made no sense for Google to have their future controlled by 2 of their major competitors, so pushing for another codec was simply a question of survival.

    Buying Webm and releasing it as an open codec was probably one of the few ways of doing this with any chance of success.

    With IE continuing to lose market share and Chrome gaining it, this is the right time to drop the codec they want to kill, before Mobile Safari becomes too relevant.

    Flash plugin for video is a present that noone believes has a future, not even Adobe.

    The rest is just circus to make us post on forums.

  28. Jonathan White

    Oh my lord...

    "Good to see Google forcing peoples hand."

    Oh, seriously? You honestly think having Google in charge of what technologies get used on the web is any better than letting Microsoft, or Apple, or any other business with shareholders and the like to be in charge?

    The whole point is the technologies used on the web should be under the control or permission of no one company or group of companies. How is Google dictating terms to everyone else in any sense a better thing that MS or Apple dictating them?

    Jesus, there really are people round here who think the sun shines out of Google's arse.

    Jon

  29. wilhelmreuch

    Apple and Flash - not the same reason

    Apple dropped Flash as it was buggy, insecure and wasted battery power. Very much unlike H.264.

    Google drops H.264 bcause it doesnt match their definition of open. Very much like Flash.

    Thus Google is ridiculous and just evil. And Apple is not.

  30. podster
    Thumb Down

    Cheap Shots

    I know its feels like fun to talk smack about Apple and Steve Jobs, but does how does any of this announcement have anything at all to do with them.

    Why stoke up a flame war by sticking in a title 'Jobsian Codec' when H264 is a product of VCEG 12 years ago.

    This is to do with Google. They can do what they like with their own browser, OS, search or whatever, there ARE alternatives. If you don't like it then switch. Its the same for Apple, or MS or whoever.

    Don't ever fool yourself however that any of these multi billion dollar companies are doing it for your own good. They are doing it for THEIR OWN good.

    Google stands to gain out of this if the gamble pays off. I assume the gamble is more people using Chrome, more adoption of WebM, making WebM standard on Android more Android phones, more YouTube rates, more advertising cash, blah, blah.

    If it looks like people will drop using Chrome because of this you can expect it to be supporting H.264 (we listened to what people had to say) ASAP.

    1. Rattus Rattus

      re "fun to talk smack about Apple and Steve Jobs"

      No, it's not fun at all any more. These days it's more like shooting fish in a barrel.

  31. johnnytruant
    FAIL

    I hope they make WebM suck less

    Because it barely compares to H.264 for quality right now, not to mention compression.

    http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/archives/377

    Very technical, and interesting if you like that sort of thing, or skip to the end for screengrabs and conclusions. One interesting bit worth pulling out (he does cover just how much h.264 code appears to be in WebM in detail elsewhere):

    "Finally, the problem of patents appears to be rearing its ugly head again. [WebM] is simply way too similar to H.264: a pithy, if slightly inaccurate, description of [WebM] would be 'H.264 Baseline Profile with a better entropy coder'. "

    1. Ocular Sinister

      Pointless Title Requirement Fulfilled

      "Because it barely compares to H.264 for quality right now, not to mention compression."

      Because it barely compared to H.264 for quality last year, and I can't be bothered to find more recent comparisons. FTFY.

      1. johnnytruant

        since last year

        The spec hasn't changed. WebM doesn't suddenly have more capabilities than it did a year ago. That's kind of the point of a specification - how are the soft and hardware manufacturers to do anything if the goalposts keep moving?

        Encode/decode speeds have increased as the various codec software has been optimised, but that doesn't change the fact that WebM is fundamentally less capable than H.264.

        There's a reason there aren't many newer comparisons. It's because they're not needed. I did look. You're welcome to post a link if you know of any.

        This comparison is a bit more recent, although a lot less interesting and less useful and devoid of nice screenshots with which one might draw one's own conclusions: http://compression.graphicon.ru/video/codec_comparison/h264_2010/appendixes.html#Appendix_8

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Very true, but...

      I would much rather the web standardise on a truly open video format than one that carries a sting in the tail. We all benefit from this in the long run. If WebM takes off I'd like to think that the MPEG-LA reconsiders the restrictions it imposes and plays nicer when they release an awesome new format in the future.

  32. Old Tom

    Flash advertising

    "But it's also worth pointing out that Flash is a ridiculously popular advertising technology."

    Flash ads are the ones I don't see - I don't use AdBlock as I don't mind static banner ads or even animate gifs; I do use FlashBlock though as I do mind manic ads, especially ones that stream video.

  33. Paul 135
    Jobs Horns

    WebM open my ass

    The point many are missing here is that it's actually quite unlikely that WebM is "open" at all. VP8 copies so much from H.264 that it's bound to violate quite a few of the same patents.

    Given that VP8's quality and encode/decode speeds are both WORSE than H.264, and given that almost all the hardware I own (none of it Apple by the way) relies entirely on H.264 hardware decoding for video playback (software playback has horrendous performance), I know which "standard" I'd rather use. Perhaps the best that can come from this is that it could push the MPEG-LA towards removing/reducing the costs associated with H.264 (we can only dream!). As it is at present WebM/VP8 is a non-pragmatic non-starter.

    (PS: as much as I hate the evil Jobs, I'm with him on this one)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open != Open Source && Open Source != well defined

    As many people have pointed out, "open" means different things to different people. And in any case it's very hard to protect anything against third-party patent trolls.

    But there's no advantage to describing WebM as "open source". A codec is an interoperability standard and is not (or should not be) defined by real-world optimized source code (bugs and all). It is a formal specification of a bitstream and a decoder. This is something that MPEG consistently gets right and others often get wrong.

    For all its faults, I think it's a good thing that H.264 is *not* defined merely by source code (though, admittedly, the H.264 spec is a masterpiece of obscurity and potential confusion; but at least it has one).

  35. Steve Medway
    Stop

    What about hardware decode - this is a BIG ISSUE!

    So Google will dump h.264 from Chrome. Nice.... Thanks.....What about hardware acceleration?

    Can someone point me to an Intel, Nvidia, AMD or ARM chipset that supports WebM? No thought not. Now can someone point me to an intel, Nvidia, AMD GPU/Chipset or an ARM SoC that supports h.264... ohh look all fairly recent ones (except Atom chipsets but they were hobbled deliberately by intel).

    Well done Google - you've just deliberately obsoleted every Smartphone in existence (hardware h.264 doesn't kill a battery - WebM most definitely will) and probably most handsets to be produced over the next two years or more.

    Look at it this way - How many people commenting like their battery to last in their smartphone when it plays video or like their desktop to not sound like a hoover or like their laptop to be able to actually play a whole movie before the battery dies?

    thingi

  36. Steve Medway

    What about hardware acceleration? This is a BIG ISSUE!

    So Google will dump h.264 from Chrome. Nice.... Thanks.....What about hardware acceleration?

    Can someone point me to an Intel, Nvidia, AMD or ARM chipset that supports WebM? No thought not. Now can someone point me to an intel, Nvidia, AMD GPU/Chipset or an ARM SoC that supports h.264... ohh look all fairly recent ones (except Atom chipsets but they were hobbled deliberately by intel).

    Well done Google - you've just deliberately obsoleted every Smartphone in existence (hardware h.264 doesn't kill a battery - WebM most definitely will) and probably most handsets to be produced over the next two years or more.

    Look at it this way - How many people commenting like their battery to last in their smartphone when it plays video or like their desktop to not sound like a hoover or like their laptop to be able to actually play a whole movie before the battery dies?

    thingi

  37. krambam

    Google wants people to go to Google

    Can Google turn WebM into a licensed product again?

    If so, then smart move. HTML5 is the future of web video. If Google wants to put its effort behind moving to HTML5 and not Flash for sites like YouTube, then it makes sense for it to use its own codec (which it paid money for) to do that.

    Most web video is YouTube in percentage terms, if you remove pr0n from the equation. Even sites like The Register use Youtube as it takes the backwork/bandwidth out of supporting video on your own site. The majority of browsers in use will support WebM, it just doesn't make sense to have it owned by a company as big as Google and NOT support it as far as Chrome, IE, Firefox, and Safari are concerned. Companies like Microsoft and Apple aren't going to effectively shut off their sites from it are they?

    When/if Google move Youtube onto WebM, then they save money by not paying Adobe for the tools they use to encode videos into Flash, they don't pay for H.264, but they still get the advertising dollars in. They then are faced with the decision to start charging licensees to use WebM to create another revenue stream and which browser maker ISN'T going to use WebM when the largest video source on the net requires them to do so?

    Think of their past, Google gave away Gmail for free and then found a way to monetize its use...what makes people think it won't do it for WebM?

  38. mraak

    Fanbois

    Why don't you all move to some apple shaped island and leave the rest of the world alone?

    1. podster
      Thumb Down

      Fanbois

      I suppose the rest of the world is Google shaped ???

      Use the term Fanboy (Fanbois) et al, in any conversation and you lose all respect, no matter who it is in respect of. If you cant add to the conversation take your narrow mind and exit.

  39. John Armstrong-Millar

    open and Democratic

    What we can say is that you should always be wary of anyone who uses the word "open".

    Yes its the same with Political Parties with the word Democratic in their name.

  40. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  41. Gil Grissum
    Jobs Horns

    H.264?

    I have yet to come across a site that is H.264 for video but many sites that I actually frequent use Flash, and I can go to them either on my PC, Laptop, or HTC EVO. I don't see a problem with Google dropping H.264 support in their browser when their browser supports Flash and Flash supports H.264. It's not like you're losing support for H.264 at all. It's just going through Flash to show you video that supports it. Where is the negative in that, unless you're an iPhone and iPad user. Chrome doesn't run on those platforms anyway. I see no loss here for the public. If you love H.264 that much, use I.E. or Safari and move on. Nothing to see here.

  42. NoneSuch
    Grenade

    NO!!!!!!!!

    Google, don't do this...

    Think of the endless numbers of lawyers who will be unable to sue you by taking this proprietary format out of Chrome!

    Think of the lack of resulting comments on the Reg website!

    Think of the disappointed porn downloaders who will only have audio and a black screen!

    Sad, sad day...

  43. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    "Jobsian codec..."

    Fucking retard...

  44. Bill Coleman
    Thumb Up

    Good stuff

    ...HTML 5 is in it's infancy, but gains increasing ubiquity the seeds being planted now could become the straight jackets of the future. I applaud Google for trying to stomp out a dependency on H.264 before it takes hold.

    As for not removing Flash support, I really don't think this is a double standard... Flash is already established - and I'm sure if Google could, they would kill it off. But we're just going to have to wait for Flash to eventually die of natural causes.

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