This week thousands of developers gathered at Google I/O 2010 in San Fransisco to find out what Google’s got up their sleeve for the next year (and beyond) and how their contributions can make things better for the end user. At this year’s event Google introduced a new video standard, demoed their latest software revision of Android, and pulled the veil off their latest foray into a whole new market–television.
WebM: Flash, HTML5, h.264–these are all video codecs that power different types of video players on the Internet. WebM is a new video codec developed by Google. The plan for the WebM format is to make it open-source and royalty-free from the get-go. WebM is packaged into three parts: VP8, a high-quality video codec under a royalty-free license; Vorbis, an already open source and broadly implemented audio codec; and a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container. According to Google, “VP8′s efficient bandwidth usage will mean lower serving costs for content publishers and high quality video for end-users. The codec’s relative simplicity makes it easy to integrate into existing environments and requires less manual tuning to produce high quality results.” So far, the following companies are backing the new WebM standard in their browsers: Google (duh), Mozilla, Opera, and Adobe. (Mozilla already updated their Firefox to support it, Opera says their browsers will support it “soon”, Adobe will inject VP8 support into Flash too, and Chrome support comes on on May 24.) Google will also implement it in the YouTube player (HTML5 & WebM, sittin’ in a tree…). WebM also has a list of hardware supporters including AMD, ARM, Broadcom, NVIDIA, Skype, and T.I. But the big question is if Microsoft and Apple will adopt it. At this point, there’s no word if Apple will jump on the bandwagon (big surprise there), and Microsoft has stated it will support WebM in Internet Explorer 9 (but users will be required to install the VP8 codec themselves). If there’s any tech company out there who can develop and push out a new open source video codec it’s Google. With the on-going battle for dominance between the aging Flash and up-and-coming HTML5, it will certainly be interesting to see if Google can emerge out victorious with WebM.