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Why Google is being disingenuous over H.264 and WebM

Jonathan Ballerano:

“Another interesting twist is that Google fired the first shot a month before the patent call, bydropping support for H.264 from its web browser, Chrome.  Google did this in the name of openness and performance, but it is disingenuous on both counts (not to mention that these were reasons for adding H.264 in the first place).  H.264 is an open standard, and there is a “free beer” open-source implementation of the standard, called x264, that anyone can use or modify.  Furthermore, H.264 has a performance edge because hardware manufacturers have licensed H.264 to implement high-performance decoding that frees up the CPU, increasing battery life.  WebM decoding will require new hardware, obviating all of this work and license-paying that was made as part of an industry-wide effort.  Ironically, Chrome continues to license Adobe’s proprietary Flash Player, for which Adobe licenses H.264 (the extra software layer makes it inherently less efficient than decoding built into the browser).”

If ever there was any doubt in my mind that Google’s dropping support for H.264 in Chrome and adoption of WebM is more about hurting what it sees as competitors rather than being truly open, Jonathan’s thoughtful piece removed it.

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