The time is right for the WebM video project

The time is right for the WebM video project

Summary: What do you do when the tech industry is in a Web video pissing match that just won't end? If you're Google you open source the video codec acquired in the On2 Technologies deal and create a project called WebM. The WebM effort is so needed that Microsoft, Google, Mozilla and Opera all will support it.

SHARE:

What do you do when the tech industry is in a Web video pissing match that just won't end? If you're Google you open source the video codec acquired in the On2 Technologies deal and create a project called WebM. The WebM effort is so needed that Microsoft, Google, Mozilla and Opera all will support it.

Welcome to WebM. Google at its I/O developer powwow said the company has open sourced On2's VP8 codec royalty free. Google has started using the codec on YouTube.

WebM has bolted out of the starting gate with the backing of Mozilla, Opera, Google and 40 other Web players (Techmeme). Even Microsoft is going to support WebM. There's a software developer kit and it should get broad backing quickly. Bottom line: The industry needed an open, free video codec. Because all of the yapping over H.264 and Apple vs. Adobe's Flash just gets tired.

Also: Microsoft to support VP8 video codec with Internet Explorer 9, after all?

Most of us just want the video on the Web to work every time on every device. All of the tech inside baseball over openness and standards is meaningless to the user.

Simply put, the timing for WebM is pretty good. And Google has lined up a lot of partners. Aside from Mozilla and Google, AMD and Intel and Adobe are on board. Andrew Mager, live at Google I/O, notes that Kevin Lynch, CTO of Adobe, said the company will push out WebM to a billion people in a year.

Mozilla sums up the importance of WebM:

Until today, Theora was the only production-quality codec that was usable under terms appropriate for the open web. Now we can add another, in the form of VP8: providing better bandwidth efficiency than H.264, and designed to take advantage of hardware from mobile devices to powerful multicore desktop machines, it is a tremendous technology to have on the side of the open web. VP8 and WebM promise not only to commoditize state-of-the-art video quality, but also to form the basis of further advances in video for the web.

There are enough big guns backing WebM that is should become a de facto video standard quickly. However, there is one notable omission from the backers of WebM---Apple.

Related: A look at On2 Technologies and why Google wants it

More from Google I/O:

Topics: Enterprise Software, Google

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

10 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Hooray for Google. Yet another bold move in favor of FOSS and Choice

    nt
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, ~ Your Linux Advocate
  • Actually they have no work to do...

    @sigma2 Where are they competing? All major browsers are implementing as we speak. Youtube is switching and it will be rolled into Flash. Plain and simple people will start using it when they know its the codec thats supported by the most browsers. The only place you're going to get browser native support for h.264 is IE and Safari. And IE can't stand it alone of their share will drop even faster. Basically its a done deal as of today.
    storm14k
    • Seriously...

      @storm14k

      Do you actually think that YouTube will drop H.264? Or anyone else for that matter? Dream on...what kind of doofuss would drop support for iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad? Just look what is happening to Flash video player and it supports H264! Why is Google moving away from standardizing formats? This is a power play and that's all and I don't think they will win this one. Your logic is old Microsoft logic and those days are gone. Extensibility is what is needed for the future.
      CowLauncher
    • RE: The time is right for the WebM video project

      @CowLauncher: iPod touch/iPhone/iPad Users make up an audience of some 80 million people. (And probably less than that since probably own more than one device.) Certainly, that is a tantalizing market, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the approximate 1 billion computer users. Google doesn't need to tread lightly out of fear of offending someone. And beside, it's not like iToy users won't have alternatives.

      And what do you mean by "Why is Google moving away from standardized formats?" H.264 is not a standard, any more than Flash is a standard. Unless by "standard", you mean that they enjoy broad adoption; which, in that case, I would say that Flash is far more standard than H.264, as it is installed on virtually every computer in both homes and businesses.

      With Microsoft, Adobe and Google behind this the Web formats war is essentially over. Now it's time to see how Apple reacts.
      Rob Oakes
      • H264 (MPEG4 AVC) is an ISO standard

        Meaning it has been created, approved and pedigreed by standards bodies such as: Video Coding Experts Group (VCEG) together with the ISO/IEC Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG and others (SMPTE). For instance it is a format that is allowed be used to create Blu-ray DVD content. Think of MPEG2...same thing. It is a standard where it counts. VP8 on the other hand is somewhat of a bast@rd in this respect. Where is the advantage with it? Don't believe the open source card...this is just a ploy...who knows who's IP is in it until it is scrutinized by a standards body.

        I don't think it is very forward thinking for Google to muddy the waters at this point in computer evolution.

        Flash is not a video format, by the way, it is basically a container. A lot of Flash video content is ironically H264.
        CowLauncher
    • RE: The time is right for the WebM video project

      @storm14k

      See my post that I meant to reply to you with. They do have work to do (quite a lot) and they say so on their website. It is a preview.
      DevGuy_z
  • If Apple doesn't support it what then?

    I find it unusual and a tad suspicious that a single company can own a video format and also make it open source. Like Microsoft's VC-1.

    VP8 has been around for awhile and I have used it for Flash video. It is nothing special and I would question that it is better than H264 especially in regards to quality and scalability.
    CowLauncher
  • They do, (it is a preview) no chips that support it yet.

    For small mobile devices it is very helpful if the decoder is implemented in hardware. They don't have this yet. So for existing mobile devices they will have to stick H.264 which is decoded in hardware on many platforms (including the new atom processor that intel will soon release) or just do software which is a much bigger load on resources.

    Secondly it is a preview and not fully optimized yet. The only thing released is the specification, sdk and api. It currently requires a lot of CPU and there is no hardware acceleration yet either by CPU or GPU. I'm sure that will come but until it does H.264 will likely have the edge for the next year or two.
    DevGuy_z
  • While I agree, I think the best argument is the webM site.

    @sigma2
    See webmproject.org
    1. It is a preview
    2. It isn't fully optimized. Requires significant CPU resources
    3. They are "working" on GPU acceleration
    4. No CPU acceleration as is available with H.264

    However it is just a matter of time. I am happy about it.
    DevGuy_z
  • RE: The time is right for the WebM video project

    Well done! Thank you very much for professional templates and community edition
    <a href="http://www.yuregininsesi.com">seslisohbet</a> <a href="http://www.yuregininsesi.com">seslichat</a>
    yarinsiz