Google Ditches H.264 Support In Google Chrome

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 12, 2011
Updated • Mar 1, 2015
Music and Video

The HTML5 web video wars are heating up again, this time with news that Google announced to remove support for the h.264 codec from the Chrome browser in the next couple months.

Google product manager Mike Jazayeri admits that " H.264 plays an important role in video" but that Google has decided to direct their resources exclusively "towards completely open codec technologies".

What does it mean for Chrome users? Chrome will eventually only support HTML5 web videos that are making use of Google's own WebM (VP8) codec or Theora video codecs, and refuse to play H.264 videos if the website in question streams video in that format only.

While that's not the case for YouTube and maybe a few other sites, the majority of Internet sites will not encode their videos multiple times to make sure they can be watched in all browsers.

Lets take a look at browsers and their HTML5 video support:

  • Google Chrome: WebM8, Theora
  • Firefox: WebM8, Theora
  • Opera: WebM8, Theora
  • Internet Explorer 9: H.264
  • Safari: H.264

Google Chrome until now was the only browser that supported all video codecs. Internet users now have the problem that their favorite browser may not be able to play videos that they want to watch on the Internet which means that they need to keep a second browser installed, or download the videos to the computer to watch them locally.

H.264 is the Blu-Ray codec and Apple makes use of it as well in their products. If you look at entertainment devices you notice that the majority plays H.264 but not WebM or Theora.

The majority of commenters at the official blog announcement over at the Chromium blog appear to disagree with Google on the move. Some think Google tries to push their own codec at the expense of the Chrome user experience, others state that the WebM8 codec is inferior to h.264 in quality.

What's your take on this? And how will you handle HTML5 web video?


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  1. Dudeski said on January 15, 2011 at 12:06 am

    What hell is wrong with these people? Google Chrome is growing like crazy, together with IE9, Safari and all the iDevices they had the power to make h.264 the new standard.
    Instead they opt to give Apple the fat finger at the expense of the internet and their own users. The ONLY thing this will achieve is making Flash Video stick around forever, seeing as these bloody asswipes just can’t agree on a new standard.

  2. JP said on January 13, 2011 at 11:54 am

    WebM is not even hardware accelerated on Andriod phones, meaning lousy battery use.

  3. ilev said on January 13, 2011 at 11:15 am

    No problem I can do without H-264 as I do without Flash on my iPhone.

  4. ilev said on January 13, 2011 at 11:14 am

    No problem I can do without H-264

  5. kalmly said on January 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    No problem. I don’t use Chrome.

  6. David Macdonald Ajang said on January 12, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Why can’t anyone agree on a standard? I don’t want to see another war just like Blu-ray vs HD-DVD. Support both codecs is probably the best option.

  7. Roebie said on January 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Good move. Big support for open codec technologies.
    If video sites want to keep their visitors they will have to encode their videos in at least 2 formats.
    Of course it would be better if all browsers supported an open source codec.
    Even better would be to open up H.264

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