Google maintains their decision to abandon the H.264 codec in Google Chrome and will instead offer a plug-in to support WebM in IE9 and Safari.
Not enough time has passed yet to fully appreciate the consequences of Google’s decision to abandon the support of H.264 (proprietary codec) in their web browser. This codec selection is made in their HTML5 format for which the W3C has made no recommendation. This technology is only in its very early stages of development.
Google has opted for WebM (VP8 container and Vorbis) an open format, although one which is not overly popular at this stage. This decision led to user feedback against Google, leading to the company providing additional information. Google’s product manager, Mike Jazayeri explains that H.264 will never be the codec of reference in the HTML video standard due to its licensing.
"We genuinely believe that core web technologies need to be open and community developed to enable the same great innovation that has brought the web to where it is today. These facts led us to join the efforts of the web community and invest in an open alternative, WebM."
Mike Jazayeri states that to use and distribute H.264, browser and operating system developers, hardware manufacturers and software developers who sell their content (not for free video streaming) have to pay royalties to use H.264. They have "no guarantee the fees won’t increase in the future. To companies like Google, the license fees may not be material, but to the next great video start-up and those in emerging markets these fees stifle innovation".
For Google, besides such costs, it’s also important that the open development community are involved, while the free aspect removes all questions about licensing royalties which can at times compromise certain decisions.