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

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

Summary: 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.

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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.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Browser, Google

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36 comments
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  • IE9

    On Ed Bott blog I already calculated that using webM only on Youtube in favor of h.264 could cost a whopping 500 billion Wh in extra energy costs.
    So it would not be wise to switch Youtube tot WebM.
    IE9
  • Chrome being disruptive??

    "it?s about Chrome wanting to be disruptive."

    No, it's about Chrome and Firefox being true open source projects and supporting open formats.

    Google is a bottom-up organization. That means the Engineers were the ones making the decision. And what are the chances of Engineers being idealistic?
    lemuelinchrist
    • Your answer...

      @lemuelinchrist

      "what are the chances of Engineers being idealistic?"

      1. :) As in 100% They're human, after all and as capable of being fanbois for their own team as anyone else.
      wolf_z
    • "Chrome supports Open Source"

      Like Flash!
      Michael Alan Goff
      • Support Open Source, doesn't mean you can't support...

        @goff256

        ...closed source as well, especially something that is so widely used for their main income source...Adverts!
        DevJonny
    • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

      @lemuelinchrist H.264 is a completely open standard... where several companies and anyone can have their say on the format and approved by governing bodies... your statement is completely hypocritical, since Chrome has built in a Closed an proprietary Flash wrapper instead, governed by one company and closed to others that are not on their approved list......

      idealist indeed... hypocritical is the word you were looking for.....
      honkj
    • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

      @lemuelinchrist

      "Chrome and Firefox being true open source projects"

      Chrome (Google) uses plenty of open source, but Google is not a true open source company. Most of the open source software they absorb and then produce a proprietary version for distribution.
      jorjitop
  • Semantics: whatever decisions are made by the "Chrome Team"

    are ultimately decisions approved by Google.<br>Scoping aside.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
    • Yes, Google management is in on it. This is a big game of chicken and

      posturing. I would say that it has at least helped publicize Chrome! It will hopefully keep H.264 out of HTML5 as well.
      DonnieBoy
      • Keep h.264 out of html5 indeed!

        @DonnieBoy
        Nt
        Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
  • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

    Why didn't any of the other ZDNet bloggers ask Google directly?
    Loverock Davidson
    • Probably because . . .

      @Loverock Davidson

      Most of the time, Companies like Google, MS, Apple, etc., will not say anything outside of their official releases, or refer you to their Marketing dept.

      I imagine that most of the bloggers here, simply got used to the status quo, and didn't even think about asking them directly . . .
      JLHenry
    • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

      @Loverock Davidson because no one needed to ask Google directly, it would be stupid to put in a substandard extra encoding for Youtube, when every single hardware device, INCLUDING ANDROID PHONES do or will have hardware decoding of H.264... <br><br>it would in otherwords have been idiotic for Google to make YouTube have not only twice the storage needed, but more, because WebM is that less efficient as a video compressor, worse the results of WebM on video are seriously flawed in video playback...<br><br>if Google did this, and then required Android phones to use WebM for instance, their battery life would be half what it is... worse after Google finished, the true owners of the tech behind WebM would sue google for millions.. rightly or wrongly, google would be in a court case for years......<br><br>Google isn't that stupid. just the Chrome team is.... even their statement was hypocritical, claiming openness while further integrating the proprietary Flash wrapper, which they have to integrate even further because it is a crashing and security nightmare...<br><br>so Chrome gave up a superior codec that is an open standard, where everyone can see the code to trade off to a closed proprietary wrapper, where Adobe has to approve your ability to see the code, which they do not do unless you are a partner of Adobe....<br><br>anybody seeing how completely ridiculous the Chrome Team was in their statement? atleast claim that they want to forward their own slower tech, that is years behind H.264 atleast, instead of hypocritically playing the "open" free hugger card.
      honkj
  • please help

    I don't understand what this means. Is H264 already supported by flash addon? Is this new codec also supported by flash or will flash not be needed then?
    kleav
    • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

      @kleav <br>Good question. I am also waiting for Google's response on this. But I don't think so, because Chrome directly supports WebM, so having to render it via Flash is moot, but I to don't know how it would become in the final Chrome.
      Ram U
    • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

      @kleav <br>The point is that they are removing H.264 support from the direct "video" tag in HTML5, which is a big step away from where the new standard has been going. The idea was to have a standard way to play video without needing a plugin. Google is breaking that.
      A.Sinic
      • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

        @A.Sinic, Correct, except chrome is breaking that not google... which will not slow down the video tag, because everyone else that knows what they are doing is using it already....... the only people fighting it is the open source free huggers... believe it or not, they do not matter when money comes calling.

        hardware companies are not going to wait, so some free hugger can download more stolen code... they want hardware video encryption now... actually they already are doing the chips with it.. and why your Android phone gets somewhat battery life, so it is atleast somewhat close to an iPhones...... EVERY ONE is using H.264, except the free huggers.... for instance if Android phones used webM, everyone would laugh at their battery life... literally...

        the comparison, is every major corp that makes hardware or software, compared to a bunch of basement dwelling no names who still live with their parents...

        the decision has already been made, just like MP3 codec, and ACC, and hardware encryption, it is just a bunch of wanna bees crying over their already spilled milk...

        no one was holding the HTML5 tag back but them.... now they've made the HTML5 tag decision much easier, because the real companies are now fed up with them.
        honkj
    • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

      @kleav Me either. What DOES this mean. This blog and these comments don't bring us any closer.
      Schoolboy Bob
    • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

      @kleav <br><br>Essentially this is a non issue. What matters to web application creators (like myself) is not having to distribute audio/video in multiple formats. As long as Google supports Flash I'll distribute in H264 and use Flash for rendering or WMP or HTML5 (when it supports H264). All Google is assuring is that conditional code to support different browsers and add-ons will continue to be used.<br><br>The real question is why anyone would bother with WebM, a demonstrably inferior codec with no hardware support whose "patent-free" status has yet to be tested.
      tonymcs@...
      • RE: Chrome's love of WebM and hatred of H.264 has nothing to do with YouTube

        @tonymcs@... "All Google is assuring is that conditional code to support different browsers and add-ons will continue to be used."

        they are also assuring that Chrome has a needless crashy extra security head ache with Flash for a long time to come....

        needless unless of course a browser wants those flash ads, the worst thing man has ever created... but for some reason, people claim this is a bad thing that HTML5 can not yet do those horrific ads that interrupt video and obscure it. and those front doors to websites that look like a child designed them......

        it is like drop outs who have never seen a piece of art in their life doing video games as an ad or neon flashing website... and useless web games.. god help them.

        there is a good reason that "flash" blockers have a brisk business going...
        honkj