Google Clears Up Confusion in Web Video Brouhaha
One way to look at the impact that Google's open source Chrome browser is having is to consider the ripple effect that the company created with its recent blog post on web video standards and browsing. We covered the post and its implications here, and Microsoft--with its market share-leading Internet Explorer browser--served up a response dripping with sarcasm, here. Now, Google is delivering some specifics about its actual intent.
In case you missed the first salvo in Google's web video brouhaha, on The Chromium Blog last week, Google officials wrote that they are putting more muscle behind the VP8 open source video codec, and that future versions of Chrome will support the WebM Project and Ogg Theora codecs. The upshot of the post was that Google is moving steadily away from supporting H.264 video, and that may eventually have a big impact on web publishers and device manufacturers.
Now, also on The Chromium Blog, Google officials are clearing up what their original meaning was:
"This week’s announcement was solely related to the HTML <video> tag, which is part of the emerging set of standards commonly referred to as “HTML5.” We believe there is great promise in the <video> tag and want to see it succeed. As it stands, the organizations involved in defining the HTML video standard are at an impasse. There is no agreement on which video codec should be the baseline standard. Firefox and Opera support the open WebM and Ogg Theora codecs and will not support H.264 due to its licensing requirements; Safari and IE9 support H.264. With this status quo, all publishers and developers using the <video> tag will be forced to support multiple formats."
The post continues:
"This is not an ideal situation and we want to see a viable baseline codec that all browsers can support. It is clear that there will not be agreement to specify H.264 as the baseline codec in the HTML video standard due to its licensing requirements. Furthermore, we genuinely believe that core web technologies need to be open and community developed to enable the same great innovation that has brought the web to where it is today. These facts led us to join the efforts of the web community and invest in an open alternative, WebM."
Whew. Obviously Google means business with WebM, and further portions of the latest post mention specifically that Google opposes the license fees that content publishers who charge for content have to pay to distribute H.264 video. In pure terms, Google is indeed defending open standards, but it's almost certain that users who want H.264 to march forward as a widely used standard will end up miffed as Google gives it, and them, the cold shoulder.