Free shit will buy you all kinds of goodwill. Why do you think they give you toasters when you open checking accounts? Apparently Google is looking to cash in a chunk of it by announcing that they will be phasing out support for H.264 in its Chrome browsers and throwing its development muscle behind WebM, a codec they bought with OnM last year. Ars Technica’s Peter Bright lays out a number of reasons why this is bad for the Open Web, and a minor consistency problem Google seems to have with their application of “freedom”:
“At the very least, there appears to be a significant inconsistency between the company’s actions regarding video support, and the rest of its browser. If it’s going remove features for poorly-articulated ideological reasons, it would surely make sense to apply that ideology consistently.”
That would include removing support for Flash, MP3, AAC and H.264 support for its Android devices – to name a few. Or Google could just admit this is an attempt to stymie the use of HTML5 <video> with H.264, a transition from Flash that looked likely to consummate before Google’s announcement. And what alternatives do web developers have? They could continue to use Flash for the foreseeable future – which is far and away more encumbered than H.264 – or they could encode their video twice for current Flash via H.264 (shockingly, Adobe’s Flash has yet to support WebM. Must be tracking the same development schedule as a usable mobile Flash) and once for HTML 5 (WebM) users. Suffice it to say Google’s announcement all but guarantees the former. Guess which encoding is also trumpeted by Google as the primary advantage of their mobile devices over iOS devices?
And I’m sure the timing of the announcement: basically simultaneous with the Verizon iPhone. You know, the thing that will crush Android’s market share in the U.S? Anyone who thinks Google’s announcement to ditch H.264 is about the “Open Web” and not about making a power play against Apple’s mobile devices has their head up their ass.