Yesterday (May 19th), Google made the VP8 codec open source and contributed this code to The WebM Project. WebM is a new multimedia/video format designed specifically for web based use.. Being modern, open source and interoperable with HTML5, VP8 could quickly usurp many of the competing web video technologies as it has some very tangible advantages:
- H.264: proprietary and has potential licensing issues
- Flash: proprietary, requires a plug-in and will not work on iPhones or iPads
- Ogg/Theora: open source but a relatively old technology with a number of limitations and lacking cross industry support.
Most browsers including Firefox, Chrome and IE9 will support VP8 without updates. This may represent a key area where Google can gain significant dominance over the on-line video market. Via YouTube alone, Google has a channel which allows them to significantly affect which video technologies will acquire acceptance and popularity with users.
We predict that WebM will be favourably received by DAM technology suppliers as it does solve many of the complex issues that were developing for using on-line video with HTML5.
The key question will be how Apple responds to this development. Google’s heterogeneous approach to integrating multiple technologies (especially in mobile devices like Android phones) contrasts starkly with Apple. Their endeavours to control the hardware and software their devices are used with is reminiscent of the 1980s and 90s where they lost significant market share to Windows and ‘clone’ PCs – and almost disappeared as a result. Are Apple destined to follow the same strategy once more and suffer similar consequences?