In an apparent effort only to support open-source video codecs in its browser, Google announced today that it would drop support for the H.264 video codec in Chrome.
Chrome product manager Mike Jazayeri explains:
We expect even more rapid innovation in the web media platform in the coming year and are focusing our investments in those technologies that are developed and licensed based on open web principles. To that end, we are changing Chrome’s HTML5
<video>support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project.
Google will consequently be supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs and promises to consider adding future support for other open-source codecs that meet quality standards. Both codecs are much less known than their popular and more widely used H.264 counterpart, so it remains to be seen how this change will affect Chrome users in the long run. It’s possible that Chrome users will end up having to watch their videos using Flash for their video playback, in which case H.264 will likely still end up being employed as the dominant codec.
Interestingly enough, Google has been silent on whether it will continue providing support for other closed applications, like the Flash Player plugin, in favor of open-source alternatives.