Google has defended its decision to ditch HTML5 support for H.264 from its Chrome browser, insisting the move to support the WebM standard instead would be good for the wider web.
Last week, the company faced criticism from some quarters when it announced it would stop supporting the codec in its HTML5 video tag, saying the Apple and Microsoft supported standard was not open.
Google has insisted it is critical that there is a baseline industry standard codec behind the HTML video tag to simplify using video for publishers and developers.
“As it stands, the organisations involved in defining the HTML video standard are at an impasse,” Chrome project manager Mike Jazayeri said on the company’s blog.
“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," he said.
“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."
Google’s move was all the more surprising given that H.264 has gained wide support in the publishing industry and boasts hardware acceleration, but the company insisted licensing issues could price innovative start-ups out of the market.
“To use and distribute H.264, browser and OS vendors, hardware manufacturers, and publishers who charge for content must pay significant royalties, with no guarantee the fees won’t increase in the future,” Jazayeri said.
“To companies like Google, the license fees may not be material, but to the next great video start-up and those in emerging markets these fees stifle innovation."
Google stressed that H.264 would continue to be supported in Chrome via plug-ins such as Flash and Silverlight.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk