By John Gruber
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Haavard, of Opera Software, on the question of whether Chrome’s removal of H.264 support for HTML5 video is a step backward for “openness”:
One important thing to keep in mind is that Flash is already ubiquitous. If you want to do any kind of video on the web, you don’t have a choice. Flash is needed. However, the “battle” over HTML5 video is still raging. There is no clear winner, but with Google dropping the closed H.264, it is much more likely that an open format will prevail in the end.
So the question of Google’s bundling of Flash is a red herring which takes away the focus from the real issue: Whether native video support in browsers is based on open or closed technologies.
Regarding the “red herring” bit, MG Siegler responds:
The problem is that it isn’t a red herring. It’s just another, actually larger, issue which he’s sidestepping.
What I see as the glaring flaw in Haavard’s argument is this: “If you want to do any kind of video on the web, you don’t have a choice. Flash is needed.” iOS is existence proof that this is not true. It has no Flash, but plays plenty of video on the web. The reason it doesn’t need Flash, though, is because it supports H.264 in HTML5 video.
I.e., to be useful today, a web browser needs either (a) Flash or (b) H.264 with HTML5 video. Some browsers support both, but every browser needs at least one. In the name of “openness”, Opera, Mozilla, and now Chrome have chosen Flash.
★ Saturday, 15 January 2011