Google announces H.264 is out, WebM is in

Last week, in a move that has sparked much heated debate, Google announced it was dropping H.264 support from Chrome’s HTML5 video tag.

According to the post at The Chromium Blog, posted by Google Product Manager Mike Jazayeri, “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.”

He also added the changes would not be immediate, but would take place over the next few months. WebM project team is currently preparing WebM plug-ins for Safari and Internet Explorer 9, neither of which include it themselves. Basically, WebM is an open, royalty-free, media file format designed for the web. H.264 is a next-generation video compression format. It is not open, or royalty free.

Those in support of Google’s decision point to the fact that H.264 licenses cost money, and that large companies like Google are helping out the little guy by choosing this open alternative. Those against Google’s decision contend that it will set the adoption of HTML5 video back even further. Also, for online video publishers, it could create even more confusion and possibly a massive increase in video publishing costs.