January 12, 2011

H.264 Support and Chrome

Here is the poignant question posed by John Gruber:

5. Who is happy about this?

-Daring Fireball: Simple Questions for Google Regarding Chrome’s Dropping of H.264

I suggest that every person who has ever watched a video online stop and think about this situation.  Where do you go to watch online video?  Oh, wait, it doesn’t matter because it is encoded in H.264 if it is not in the old VP6 codec or WMV.  H.264 has presented itself as a basically ubiquitous standard, being supported by almost every browser, on almost every platform, including mobile.

To add to this fact, H.264 was just brought to my attention by a non-technical client who is currently piloting flash, encoded in H.264, for the future of their live streaming infrastructure.  They are very happy with Flash, but asked my opinion of the technology behind what they called an international standard,” H.264. Yesterday’s news from Google is the reason why I told them, among other things, that as a conservative organization they need to stick with flash for the time being.  The fact is that moving from Flash to H.264 in terms of hardware is simple (as long as you have to back end to support either standard).  What is not so simple right now seems to be taking the pulse of what is the video standard of the future.  This is a return to the VHS vs Betamax debate, HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray.  The only difference is the fact that the H.264 has a command over the minds of general consumers since it has been used and publicized by numerous companies including the one that holds every person’s interest, Apple. 

I believe that consumers need to start taking a move active role in the technologies that they are using on the Internet, in particular for viewing video, not simply follow Google blindly just because they are Google.

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