Google dropping H264 support for Chrome

  • Posted: 11 January 2011 05:08 PM

    Looks like someone at Google is throwing a hissy fit. But definitely a glove thrown down at Apple. Youtube will drop support next I suppose. In favor of their WebM platform.

    http://blog.chromium.org/2011/01/html-video-codec-support-in-chrome.html

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    Posted: 11 January 2011 05:43 PM #1

    I don’t suppose this has anything to do with competition for the Android platform at Verizon?

    Really this is nothing but a power play by Google, it has nothing to do with their stated goal of an open web, if it was they’d also drop support for Flash.  The only open web they’re interested in is the one that their in control of.  Well it will be interesting to see what dropping support for the currently most used and supported codec will mean, if the comments mean anything there’s lots of anger and not much support for this.

         
  • Posted: 11 January 2011 05:59 PM #2

    Have they missed the number of Mac users that preferred Chrome?  They’ll be a spike in Safari numbers if this is implemented.  I remember reading articles that discussed intellectual property issues with their encoder.  Have those been resolved or is this yet another court case in the making?

    Forrest’s mom said it best.  “Stupid is as stupid does”

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  • Posted: 11 January 2011 06:36 PM #3

    Jim you are right. If this is a step forward for “open” from Google - then where is the “we’re dropping Flash!” posting?

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  • Posted: 11 January 2011 06:48 PM #4

    Gruber’s response:

    A bold move, to be sure. H.264 is widely used. WebM and Theora aren?t. Perhaps this move will push more publishers toward serving video encoded with WebM. The big problem WebM has versus H.264 is that there are hardware decoders for H.264. This is key for mobile devices. It?s the hardware video decoding that allows mobile devices to get such long battery life and smooth performance for video playback. There?s no way publishers can drop H.264. To support Chrome, they?d have to add WebM-encoded versions of each video.

    My bet is that this is just going to push publishers toward forcing Chrome users to use Flash for video playback ? and that the video that gets sent to Flash Player will be encoded as H.264. Google can fix this for YouTube on its own, and admittedly, that covers an awful lot of web video. But I think everywhere else, H.264 will continue to dominate, and instead of getting native playback, Chrome users will get playback through Flash. This should be great for Chrome OS laptop battery life.

    UPDATE: Here?s a thought. If Google is dropping support for H.264 because their ?goal is to enable open innovation?, why don?t they also drop support for closed plugins like Flash Player? As it stands now, Chrome not only supports Flash, it ships with its own embedded copy of Flash. I don?t see how Google keeps Flash but drops H.264 in the name of ?openness? without being seen as utter hypocrites.

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  • Posted: 11 January 2011 10:35 PM #5

    George Ou has now chimed in.

    http://www.digitalsociety.org/2011/01/googles-untenable-hubris-on-h-264/

    Google?s untenable hubris on H.264
    BY GEORGE OU 11 JANUARY 2011
    Google has announced on its Chromium blog that it will be dropping H.264 support in its Chrome web browser in favor of the VP8 compression technology used in the WebM standard.  H.264 is the most popular and widely supported video compression standard in the world.  It is used in all the major standards like Blu-Ray, Adobe flash, Apple products, and Microsoft Windows and enjoys a wide array of hardware support.  By comparison, VP8 and the WebM standard is only getting started and lacks support in nearly half of the web browsers in the world while H.264 is currently supported by all the web browsers.

    ...

    One developer noted that there were many similarities between VP8 and H.264 and stated:

    ?VP8?s intra prediction is basically ripped off wholesale from H.264: the ?subblock? prediction modes are almost exactly identical (they even have the same names!) to H.264?s i4x4 mode, and the whole block prediction mode is basically identical to i16x16. Chroma prediction modes are practically identical as well. i8x8, from H.264 High Profile, is not present. An additional difference is that the planar prediction mode has been replaced with TM_PRED, a very vaguely similar analogue. The specific prediction modes are internally slightly different, but have the same names as in H.264.?

    This is alarming to anyone looking to implement VP8 because Google does not indemnify anyone from patent lawsuits.  That means anyone using VP8 could be held liable for any patent damages.  H.264 on the other hand is already paid for and H.264 for free streaming was made permanently free.  That means the choice for me will be simple and the day Google Chrome dumps H.264 is the day I will uninstall Chrome.

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  • Posted: 11 January 2011 10:38 PM #6

    So on the day that Verizon announces that Apple are bringing the iPhone to the party, Google announces a switch from the hardware accelerated (on iPhones and other iOS devices) H264 to the un-accelerated VP8 Format, which they have branded WebM.

    Coincidence? I think not baby puppy.

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    Posted: 11 January 2011 11:35 PM #7

    ratty, I can hear Fal’s response already. Can’t you? LOL

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  • Posted: 12 January 2011 08:13 AM #8

    mbeauch - 12 January 2011 03:35 AM

    ratty, I can hear Fal’s response already. Can’t you? LOL

    We PM"d each other about it - he’s doing some research before letting loose the dogs of war. I do think this is actually the most important news of yesterday. But then again I do fashion my tin hats well. (should I invest in Alcoa?)

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    Posted: 12 January 2011 09:15 AM #9

    rattyuk - 12 January 2011 12:13 PM
    mbeauch - 12 January 2011 03:35 AM

    ratty, I can hear Fal’s response already. Can’t you? LOL

    We PM"d each other about it - he’s doing some research before letting loose the dogs of war. I do think this is actually the most important news of yesterday. But then again I do fashion my tin hats well. (should I invest in Alcoa?)

    This is way more than a simple “shot across the bow”. We’re looking at all out war here with big G.

      JohnG

         
  • Posted: 12 January 2011 10:28 AM #10

    Maybe they are testing the waters, looking for feedback. Come 1st week in Feb. the pre-sales of the vPhone may be cause for pause in their initial belligerent posture. Can Chrome be that popular?

         
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    Posted: 12 January 2011 10:34 AM #11

    danthemason - 12 January 2011 02:28 PM

    Maybe they are testing the waters, looking for feedback. Come 1st week in Feb. the pre-sales of the vPhone may be cause for pause in their initial belligerent posture. Can Chrome be that popular?

    from Apple Insider

    [ Edited: 12 January 2011 10:36 AM by relentlessFocus ]

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    news, backstory, analysis and opinion for investors in AAPL at my blog relentless focus

         
  • Posted: 12 January 2011 12:07 PM #12

    relentlessFocus - 12 January 2011 02:34 PM
    danthemason - 12 January 2011 02:28 PM

    Can Chrome be that popular?

    I know quite a few people who have now removed it. Should be interesting to see how chromes stats stand up come end of March.

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    Posted: 12 January 2011 12:16 PM #13

    rattyuk - 12 January 2011 04:07 PM
    relentlessFocus - 12 January 2011 02:34 PM
    danthemason - 12 January 2011 02:28 PM

    Can Chrome be that popular?

    I know quite a few people who have now removed it. Should be interesting to see how chromes stats stand up come end of March.

    I use Firefox. I tried Chrome for a short time, did not care for it. I really dislike Google so anything I can do to not help them I will.

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  • Posted: 12 January 2011 04:02 PM #14

    I am getting tired of Google taking this self righteous “open” line over and over again.  They must feel that their customer base and the industry at large are idiots to not see what their real motivations are.  This latest hissy fit of theirs shows that they could care less about their customers. 

    Too bad from a browser point of view.  I recently switched to Chrome and I think it is a great browser.  Guess its over to Safari for me, or maybe back to Firefox.

    I also really wonder what this means for Android.  H.264 has hardware support in most smartphones now, which is a “must have” for performance and battery life.  They can’t be crazy enough to try and force the industry away from H.264 on mobile devices, can they?

         
  • Posted: 12 January 2011 04:30 PM #15

    Lstream - 12 January 2011 08:02 PM

    I also really wonder what this means for Android.  H.264 has hardware support in most smartphones now, which is a “must have” for performance and battery life.  They can’t be crazy enough to try and force the industry away from H.264 on mobile devices, can they?

    Don’t look at what the right hand is doing. Misdirection. The essential thing behind magic.

    Can’t possibly have anything to do with this article that was buried in all the CES brouhaha last week:

    CES: Rockchip gives Google’s WebM a hardware boost
    by Stephen Shankland

    Rockchip, a Chinese chip designer that focuses on processors for Net-connected phones, TVs, and e-book readers, announced a new processor today at CES that supports Google’s WebM technology for video streaming.
    WebM can be used to encode video with the the open-source and royalty-free VP8 video codec and Vorbis audio codec, and Google hopes it will keep patent encumbrances off the Net. Its primary competitor is the H.264 codec, also known as AVC, whose use requires licensing an expensive set of patents.
    Crucial to WebM’s success, though, is hardware support that speeds decoding and saves battery power when compared to running the process on a general-purpose processor—especially on mobile devices. That’s where Fuzhou Rockchip Electronics’ new system-on-a-chip (SOC) comes in.
    The RK29xx is built around an ARM Cortex-A8 CPU and also can accelerate Adobe Systems’ Flash Player 10.1, 2D and 3D graphics, and 1080p VP8 video.
    “To build VP8 decoding into the RK29xx graphics accelerators, Rockchip licensed the WebM Project’s G-Series 1 video decoder IP design,” Rockchip said in a statement released at CES today.
    Added Jani Huoponen, hardware product manager for the WebM project, “We’re very excited that Rockchip chose our G-Series 1 hardware design to add VP8 support to the RK29xx.”

    Article can be found HERE.

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