Google clarifies its position on dropping H.264 support for its Chrome Web browser: it no longer wants to support the patent royalty system instituted by H.264 owner MPEG LA.
Google said it would not support H.264 as a baseline
video codec standard for HTML video because it refuses to accept the licensing
requirements imposed by H.264 proprietor MPEG LA.
Google Jan. 11
dropped a bombshell
on the video content industry when it said it would no
longer support H.264 in future versions of its Chrome Web browser, opting
instead to push its own open source WebM codec and the Ogg Theora codec.
This blog post
from Google Chrome
Product Manager Mike Jazayeri elicited concern from publishers
and developers concerned they would have to maintain multiple copies of
their content if Google canned support for the industry standard H.264
Others saw Google's claim of "openness" as a
ruse to push its own WebM codec, which the company cultivated after acquiring
On2 Technologies for $124.6 million in 2009.
Seeking to clarify Google's rationale for discontinuing
support for the H.264 codec, Jazayeri said
Jan. 14 the announcement was solely related to the HTML <video> tag
in HTML5, the spec Google is aggressively pushing to facilitate its dozens of Web
services in the future.
However, Google will continue to support the Adobe Flash
and Microsoft Silverlight plug-ins that facilitate H.264 videos in Web
Google's move appeared to make Google the tiebreaker in a
classic technology format standoff. To that point, browser makers Google,
Microsoft and Apple were on board for H.264, while Mozilla and Opera supported
WebM and Theora codecs.
The result is that all publishers and developers using
the <video> tag must support multiple formats, a major inconvenience that
leads to fragmentation.
Moreover, Google does not want to pay MPEG LA, which licenses
hundreds of vide for Microsoft, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Philips Electronics,
Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba, royalties for H.264.
"To use and distribute H.264, browser and OS
vendors, hardware manufacturers, and publishers who charge for content must pay
significant royalties-with no guarantee the fees won't increase in the future,"
"To companies like Google, the license fees may not
be material, but to the next great video startup and those in emerging markets
these fees stifle innovation."