Hey, the billion dollar corporations are fighting again and the web community is caught in the middle

January 12th, 2011

If you’re involved in the web design/development community, you had to have heard the news that Google Chrome is going to drop support of the h.264 video codec. My reaction was, “Interesting” and then I went on with my day. But soon my Twitter seemed to become full of debate about if this was a Google vs Apple thing and people bringing up Apple’s Flash bashing, for some reason. From what I’ve seen, it’s John Gruber and the Apple fanboys that seem to think this a bad thing, while open-source people are cheering loudly.

Personally, I don’t really care what the format that wins is, I just want one video format and I want it to be free. Otherwise, there’s still a reason to stick with Flash to deliver video. Plus, the fact that MPEG LA could, if they wanted to, start charging for us to use h.264 has always made me a bit leery of using it. Imagine a site with 500 videos on it all in the h.264 format and MPEG LA’s no royalties deal runs out and they want to start collecting. I’d guess most sites would just take the videos down and go back to Flash.

Like the Adobe vs Apple thing, this is just a couple of huge corporations that are trying to set things up that will be best for them. I’ve seen theories that Google wants everyone to use WebM so that they will be able to insert ads into the video instead of at the beginning or a text ad over top of the video. And Apple’s put a lot of of money into h.264 and I’m sure they don’t want to see that wasted. Plus, it’s Apple, so who knows what other ideas they have for it.

Really, I think the end result is going to be Apple adding WebM support because it’s already supported by Chrome and Firefox 4 and those are the choice of browser for most developers and that’s what usually wins out. Plus, Safari only has about 5-6% of users and honestly, I’m sure most web sites wouldn’t be that upset if those people couldn’t see the video. Or in a bit of an ironic twist, all the other browsers saw native video and Safari users got Flash video.

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