Google dropping H264 support for Chrome

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    Posted: 13 January 2011 07:38 PM #46

    John Gruber has chimed in with a more considered response.

    The Practical vs. Idealistic Scenarios for the Near-Term Future of Online Video

    Thursday, 13 January 2011



    I don?t think these H.264 opponents have any idea how to drive adoption of new technology. Apple was able to motivate companies to deliver non-Flash H.264-encoded video by making devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch which had the following qualities:

    The devices are very popular. There is a large lucrative audience of people who own them and want to watch video from companies like Netflix, Vimeo, and Major League Baseball.

    The devices offer excellent support for H.264. Smooth playback and low power consumption.

    There is no other way to send video to these devices.

    That third point is key. Some of these companies took on a lot of work in order to serve video to iOS devices, because their existing systems were based entirely on Flash Player. But because Flash Player is not available on iOS, this was still the least possible work they could do ? other than not supporting iOS devices at all.

    The least amount of work these companies can do now, to continue serving video to Chrome users, is to keep using H.264-encoded video via Flash Player. There is no sign that any of these companies share the idealistic concerns of H.264 opponents, and every sign that they?re satisfied with H.264?s technical merits and legal status.

    Thus, dropping native H.264 playback from Chrome while still allowing H.264 playback via Flash Player isn?t going to drive adoption of WebM. It just means that Chrome users will get H.264 via Flash.

    Worth a read.



  • Posted: 13 January 2011 10:10 PM #47

    False alarm

  • Posted: 14 January 2011 12:27 AM #48

    jimlongo - 11 January 2011 09:43 PM

    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.

    I disagree. Flash is already entrenched, and already on its way out. It’s kept for legacy purposes. HTML5 is a new standard which is still in its infancy, and needs to be pushed in the right direction.

    So you cannot possibly accept that Google are trying to do this to clobber Apple?s hardware acceleration?

    This seems unlikely, since it would similarly clobber Android phones’ hardware acceleration. All devices are basically in the same boat here.

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    Posted: 14 January 2011 11:44 AM #49

    Something related possibly.

    Yesterday we got a Trouble Ticket from our Sales unit and supported by several high end management types.

    The request was to put Chrome on our Terminal Servers because “Google docs work a lot better with Chrome than they do with any other browser”.

    This was news to me but if this is the case (and I don’t know because I don’t use Google Docs) maybe Google is hoping that Docs users will push Chrome and that will push their WebM standard. Maybe they’re trying to leverage their existing systems.

    Does anyone know if Google Docs has been optimized for Chrome over other browsers? If so that would be quite nasty.

    [ Edited: 14 January 2011 12:33 PM by geoduck ]


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    Posted: 14 January 2011 12:11 PM #50

    geoduck - 14 January 2011 03:44 PM

    Does anyone know if Google Docs has been optimized for Chrome over other browsers?

    It’s not like Apple’s HTML5 canvas examples that only work with Safari, if that’s where you’re going with this. It’s not how Google thinks. The Google Docs team is charged with delivering the best experience they can to the widest audience, not favor one browser over another. Clear evidence of that is in how they support IE6, with a technology called Chrome Frame. Google has a plugin that turns the inside of IE into a Chrome browser. Web developers can access it to make their applications more compatible and easier to maintain.

    From another perspective on web app development… If you’re a developer, check out REAL Software’s REAL Studio Web Edition. If you follow the community, you’d see their lead guy on that product talking a lot about the whole matrix of features they support for each browser and platform. It’s complicated, because even though all the major browser claim to do HMTL5 stuff, they all seem to have their own special spin on some features and their own peculiar issues. And not coincidentally, they use Chrome Frame to support IE6.

    But back to the conspiracy angle… Google does these things like Chrome browser and Chrome Frame because it has to. They still end up sending lots of money in search referrals to Mozilla, makers of Firefox. There is a lot as browser makers that they agree on, and it’s entirely conceivable that at some point, Google would offload Chrome to Mozilla so it could be merged. For example, they started with Apple’s position on H.264 and ended up at Mozilla’s position. By framing Google’s actions in terms of how Apple works, I think you guys misunderstand what makes Google tick.

  • Posted: 14 January 2011 01:42 PM #51

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 13 January 2011 07:00 PM

    FalKirk…If you’re going to reply to my posts, perhaps you should read them?

    You’re right. Responding to your posts without having fully read them was foolish. My apologies to both you and the rest of the board.

  • Posted: 15 January 2011 03:27 AM #52

    rattyuk - 12 January 2011 08:30 PM
    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.

    Thanks for initiating this discussion, rattyuk, and for this link.

    Yes, this article has absolutely nothing to do with Google’s action. Honest.



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    Posted: 15 January 2011 09:12 AM #53

    Two points to consider:
    1) Will Facebook support WebM or H.264?
    2) Will Apple build a Safari version for Android to support H.264?


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  • Posted: 15 January 2011 02:36 PM #54

    Bosco (Brad Hutchings) - 14 January 2011 04:11 PM
    geoduck - 14 January 2011 03:44 PM

    Does anyone know if Google Docs has been optimized for Chrome over other browsers?

    ...The Google Docs team is charged with delivering the best experience they can to the widest audience, not favor one browser over another.

    And yet, here we have the observation that Google Docs works best on Google’s Chrome browser! I guess Google hasn’t read your mail yet, Brad.

    Clear evidence of that is in how they support IE6, with a technology called Chrome Frame. Google has a plugin that turns the inside of IE into a Chrome browser.

    Ah, good. So it appears to be true then: For the best Google Docs experience (or for Google Docs to work at all), you must use Chrome frameworks.

    What was it that you were trying to prove again…?

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    Posted: 04 February 2011 11:53 PM #55

    Microsoft helps out poor old Chrome and their lack of H.264

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    Posted: 05 February 2011 12:00 AM #56

    But then there is this story that says HTML5 is not going to overwhelm Flash anytime soon.  And therefore Chrome dropping H.264 support is “irrelevant.” 

    The author:  Jeroen Wijering is a co-founder of LongTail Video and the creator of the JW Player, the world?s most popular video player for websites. Launched in 2005, the JW Player is active on over 1.5 million sites, including such, IMDB, Cisco, NASA, Sony PlayStation and In addition, Jeroen has developed several other projects including, an online magazine for entrepreneurs and professionals as well as a media-hosting service called Bits on the Run. Jeroen graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven, with honors.

    Clarification from AFB members is welcome.