Google Chrome to Drop H264 Support

Google Chrome announced that it will drop support H.264 in the HTML5 video element.

…we are changing Chrome’s HTML5 video support to make it consistent with the codecs already supported by the open Chromium project. Specifically, we are supporting the WebM (VP8) and Theora video codecs, and will consider adding support for other high-quality open codecs in the future. Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies.

At work there was speculation about the effect this might have, and if it staves off the demise of Flash. H.264 doesn’t need to be inside a Flash player. Some browsers, like Safari, can render it natively. Firefox, however, would need some player to view it since it doesn’t support H.264 natively.

The video element provides the ability to indicate priority of format/files. To handle the Chrome situation, you could put H.264 higher in the priority. If the version of Chrome you have can render it, it will; if not, it will go on to the next option. The Flash player option would appear last in the list of video options. For example:

<video>
	<source src="video-3pg.3pg"> (mobile friendly)
	<source src="video-h264.mp4"> (h264 devices)
	<source src="video-WebM.vp8"> (WebM)
	<object>
	(flash code goes in here)
	</object>
	<img src="still-of-video.jpg" alt=""> (when video is not supported)
	<p>Your device doesn't support video or images</p> (e.g.: text-only user agents)
</video>

Additionally, this prioritization is not unique to HTML5. You can do this inside the OBJECT tag in HTML 4.01. Most sites don’t do it, but it’s possible.