WebM

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As some anticipated, Google has open-sourced the VP8 codec they acquired in their purchase of On2 Technologies on 17 February this year. They’ve taken the VP8 video codec and combined it with Ogg audio, and a new container format to create the WebM project: “a broadly-backed community effort to develop a world-class media format for the open web.”

If you’ve been following the HTML5 video debate, this is very interesting news, indeed.

This is certainly the death knell for Theora, and depending on just how good VP8 is it may be a serious competitor to H.264. There are two big hurdles for WebM’s adoption:

  • Getting browsers to support the format, so it makes sense for content producers to use it and

  • Hardware decoders for mobile devices. Software decoding just isn’t going to cut it. Part of H.264’s strength is that it runs great on iPhone and iPod Touch and iPad. The reason: All of those devices have built-in hardware decoding for the codec. I highly doubt Apple will ever include hardware decoding for a directly competing tech like VP8.

Vorbis audio is still kind of a stinker compared to AAC, but WebM doesn’t need James Cameron to be on board with this for the project to be successful. They just need to start making some dents.

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My name is Phil Nelson and I make beautiful objects for a troubled world. I'm a designer / developer / writer / director / editor / narrator at Occipital.

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