Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

The decision of the Google Chrome team to dump support for the H.264 video codec has nothing to do with YouTube, so says Guardian's Charles Arthur.

The decision of the Google Chrome team to dump support for the H.264 video codec has nothing to do with YouTube, so says Guardian's Charles Arthur.

How did he come to this conclusion? He asked Google. When asked directly what effect the decision by the Chrome team to drop support for H.264 would have to YouTube, a Google PR representative had this to say:

"The announcement is only about the way video is handled within the Chrome browser. It does not affect YouTube or Android."

From the long Q&A session that Arthur has with Google, we can tease out the following details;

  • Google is not giving up H.264 on YouTube.
  • H.264 support will continue to be supported in Android.
  • It's clear that the decision by the Chrome team to remove support for H.264 was down to the Chrome team, and not a high level Google decision.
  • Android and iOS owners aren't going to see YouTube go dark any time soon.

I agree with Arthur's conclusion:

In short? It remains one to watch - the effects could be far-ranging, but they're still some way off. And it confirms, if you needed it confirming, that Google is a bottom-up organisation, driven by its engineers.

It's now blatantly clear that this issue has nothing to do with YouTube storage issues, H.264 license pricing or Google's desire to be totally open source - it's about Chrome wanting to be disruptive.

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