Google has recently announced that it will remove support for the JPEG-XL image format from its Chromium browser project, citing a lack of interest and benefits from the web ecosystem. However, this move has been criticized by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) as a sign of Google's “predatory” self-interest.
FSF argues that JPEG-XL is a potential new standard that could offer better quality and performance than existing formats.
JPEG-XL is a modern image format that was finalized in late 2020 by the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG), the same organization that created the original JPEG format. JPEG-XL is based on Google's own PIK technology, which was developed as an open source project. JPEG-XL claims to reduce storage and bandwidth costs while providing higher quality and more features than legacy JPEG, such as lossless compression, animation, transparency, and responsive web design.
However, Google decided to deprecate the experimental code and flag for JPEG-XL in Chromium, which also powers Microsoft's Edge browser. On that page, an engineer explains “There is not enough interest from the entire ecosystem to continue experimenting with JPEG XL”.
It is Unclear How Google Gauges Interest
Greg Farough, campaigns manager at FSF, said that Google's argument about the lack of interest from the ecosystem is flawed, since Google itself dominates the browser market with around 80 percent of worldwide usage share. Farough said that “in supposedly gauging what the ‘ecosystem' wants, all Google is really doing is asking itself what Google wants”. He also pointed out that Google has its own patented image format, AVIF, which competes with JPEG-XL and is supported by Android 12, macOS 13, iOS 16, and some browsers.
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