Despite Recent Chrome Announcement, H.264 Won't Be Dropped From YouTube

Charles Arthur of The Guardian has finally shed some light on Chrome's recent announcement that they would be dropping H.264, and all he had to do was ask Google's PR team.

Charles Arthur of The Guardian has finally shed some light on Chrome’s recent announcement that they would be dropping H.264, and all he had to do was ask Google’s PR team. Read on to find out what Arthur asked, what Google told him and what the implications are.

Arthur’s questions primarily had to do with the effect that Chrome’s decision to drop H.264 would have on YouTube. A lot of speculators thought that, in their mission to “enable open innovation” and direct the web towards a codec-free system, the Google-owned YouTube would also be dropping H.264. Arthur asked Google’s PR team, “If the patent-encumbered H.264 is so awful, and the open source WebM/VP8 is so wonderful, when is YouTube, that other big Google property, going to follow suit, and stop encoding in H.264?” Google responded that, “This change is related to Chrome rather than YouTube. YouTube currently supports multiple formats, including WebM.” Furthermore, the informational page about YouTube’s HTML5 Video Player remains very H.264-friendly:

When Arthur asked Google whether or not Chrome’s move also meant that YouTube would be dropping support for H.264 video content for the <video> tag, Google directed him to the above YouTube HTML5 guide. This seems to imply that, indeed, H.264 is going to remain in use by YouTube for the foreseeable future.

Arthur also asked Google about what Chrome’s decision means for mobile. He asked, “Over what timescale does Google think that WebM/VP8 will become the predominant format for serving mobile web video?” Google replied in a similar fashion to which they responded to the YouTube question saying, “The changes announced in the blog post only relate to Chrome; we don’t have any comment about mobile at this stage.” Basically, the announcement to drop H.264 really does only apply to Chrome at this stage, so we don’t have to worry about online or mobile video blackouts within our other browsers. Ultimately, I’d still stand by the belief that Google, led by Chrome, will ultimately aim to get rid of the codec system all together and push their WebM/VP8 system to the forefront, but we still have quite a while before that will happen.