Who would had thought Google dropping H.264 from Chrome Browser would generate so much virtual column inches; And I am adding to more column inches with this post!
Exactly why did Google did it? We probably would not know for certain. Do I believe Google when it says it is for sake of openness? I take it with a pinch of salt. Part of the decision is to promote WebM, the format Google is championing for the web.
This time, whatever reason Google’s decision is based on, I felt that it is to the advantage of ensuring openness in the future web. The more browser we can get not to support H.264 out of the box whether via the video tag or otherwise, the better is it for openness of the web. Brian Profitt sees it as vaccination for openness, I would not go that far. At the minimum it implies that a closed web is a certain future which I think it do not think it is very likely.
Is the decision to remove H.264 but keep flash in hypocritical (or not)? I wiill simply say it is commercial decision for Google. It is one for Google to make.
Opponent thinks that it is a step backward. However, they appear to say so because they do not like to have to take extra step to download codecs for H.264. It is a very weak argument at beast. The worst criticism I seen so far is this Ars Technica article, which gone into the realm of lamblasting WebM to support its argument that WebM is not open. I am afraid it achieve exactly the opposite: It shows why exactly WebM is open: (1) designed to avoid existing patents (With exception of Patents held by Google as a result of its purchase of On2 which created the technology in the first place) , (2) royalty-free implementation and (3) With respect to the patents Google has on WebM, there is a promise to keep it open. It is true that WebM is not ISO (or worse, ECMA certified). However, those organization are not flag holder for openness. Being ISO/ECMA sanctioned does not say anything about openness. Don’t believe me? Look at OOXML. One other thing: WebM is a bit too new to even start the ISO or ECMA process. Surely we don’t want to follow the OOXML example of ramming though a lousy and badly written standard certification process at record time.
For those whoe complain that they cannot use H.264 without putting in a tiny amount of work to get Chrome Browser H.364 compatible, all I can say is tough luck. You can do what Adrian Kingsley-Hughes did, complain that Google ruining Chrome Browser and threatening to quit using Chrome. Google has every right to ruin Chrome Browser because it created it. It probably already factor in some defection (including yours) when it made the decision so your defection might not carry the weight you think it will.