I was on the train heading to the Real Estate Connect conference in New York City earlier this month when Google announced that its Chrome browser would no longer support the video codec (H.264) that is widely utilized by Apple and its mobile devices.

HTML5’s H.264 was poised to compete against the Flash player, which is used to view most Web video.

Mike Jazayeri, Chrome product manager, wrote, "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."

The announcement caused quite a stir, with many questioning Google’s business motives and the future of Web video. Ed Burnette of ZDNet asked, "If Google really wants to promote open technologies, then why is it so cozy with Adobe and Flash? For most definitions of ‘open,’ HTML5 and CSS3 are open but Flash is not."

In real estate, content such as interactive floor plans, virtual tours and slide shows are often delivered in Flash. As you know, Flash is not an "open" application. It does not play across some devices — notably the iPhone and iPad.

Video has taken the real estate industry by storm. However, will publishers have to create multiple content types? Will brokerages have to pay for multiple content typesif they want their video to play across emerging devices?

Will they be willing to pay? These are intriguing questions.

I was reviewing an HTML5 presentation ("The Death of Flash? Can We Move Beyond Closed Systems and on to the Open Web?") that I was about to deliver when I learned of Google’s announcement. This was a huge development, and it was interesting to participate in a discussion when standards are being adopted as you speak!

Google’s decision to no longer support the video codec H.264 certainly attracted a lot of press and had many tech analysts debating the decision.

In its simplest form, a video codec is a piece of software that enables compression for digital video. HTML5 supports digital video without the need for a plug-in utilizing a video tag.

Without the need for a proprietary plug-in, video can essentially be viewed over multiple devices, such as tablets, smart phones and computers.

However, tech titans like, Adobe, Apple, Google and Microsoft cannot agree upon a video codec standard. Patents and business agendas play a major role in these decisions.

At the present time, Firefox, Chrome and Opera are supporting WebM and Theora, while Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 and Safari will support the more widely utilized H.264.

Will Google’s announcement compel content developers to embrace WebM? What does the future hold for Flash?

I addressed a few important facts regarding Adobe Flash in my presentation.

According to the Adobe website:

  • 70 percent of Web games are delivered using Flash Player.
  • 3 million developers use the Flash platform.
  • 75 percent of Web video is viewed using Flash Player.

This last statistic is a staggering number! It’s a safe bet that Adobe Flash isn’t going anywhere, at least anytime soon.

Many analysts believe Google’s announcement to no longer support H.264 was a step backward for the future of Web video. I see it more as a standstill — it will be interesting to see which codec presents the largest reach.

I believe that mobile computing is reshaping content development. Consumers want to be able to view video across multiple devices, and I’m guessing they don’t care about codecs and sophisticated algorithms.

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