Google announced today that it’s open sourcing it’s VP8 video codec as part of a new project called WebM. The move is supported by Mozilla, Opera and Chrome, as well as Adobe and virtually all leading encoding and video platform vendors.


Google announced at its i/O developers conference that it is open sourcing its VP8 video codec under a BSD-style license. The move is part of a wider open source initiative dubbed WebM that is supported by Chrome, Firefox, Opera and a number of other players. Google Vice President, Product Management Sundar Pichai made the announcement early on in  he keynote and was then joined by Mozilla’s VP of engineering Mike Shaver, who said that the format will be supported by Firefox, with nightly builds being available starting today.

Opera’s CTO Hakon Wium Lie was up next, announcing that Opera is supporting WebM as well, and demoed Opera playing back WebM. The browser make will make first builds supporting WebM available today on its Opera Labs page. He encouraged developers to start using WebM and then called web access one of the human rights of the 21st century.

WebM is essentially Google’s attempt to build up industry-wide support for VP8 playback through HTML5, with audio playback being powered by Ogg Vorbis, which is also open source. The initiative’s website went online during the keynote at Webmproject.org. The project has support from a variety of hardware makers, including ARM, AMD, NVIDIA, Texas Instruments, Broadcom and Qualcomm. On the publisher side, it’s getting support from Brightcove, Ooyala, Encoding.com, Kaltura, Zencoder and others.

VP8-encoded video will also be available on YouTube starting today. The video site has started to convert its entire catalog, according to Mozilla’s Shaver. users can start playing back VP8 video by downloading a browser that’s supporting the format and then enrolling in the site’s HTML5 test.

One of the most unexpected supporters is Adobe, whose CTO Kevin Lynch said that his company is really excited about the new codec. Adobe will use VP8 for Flash and, Lynch said that it will help to dristribute VP8 “to a billion people within a year.”

Google’s open sourcing of the VP8 codec has been widely expected ever since it announced plans to acquire On2 Technologies in August 2009, and speculation intensified after the deal closed. NewTeeeVee broke the story of Google’s plans to open source VP8 at Google i/O a month ago. Google also released WebM software development kits (SDKs) to make it easier for developers to take advantage of the open-source codec, as well as a FAQ document.

Related content on GigaOM Pro: What Does the Future Hold For Browsers? (subscription required)

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. All the News That’s Fit to Print at Google I/O Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    [...] it acquired along with On2. NewTeeVee had scooped this news more than a month ago, and has the full story today. Mozilla and Opera are on board to support the new format, and YouTube is converting its [...]

  2. Google’s Partners Will Drive WebM Adoption Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    [...] Google Open Sourcing VP8 as Part of WebM Project [...]

  3. Theora Founder: WebM Project is ‘Wonderful’ Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    [...] Google Open Sourcing VP8 as Part of WebM Project [...]

  4. Microsoft: On Second Thought, We’ll Support VP8 After All Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    [...] Google Open Sourcing VP8 as Part of WebM Project [...]

  5. Great news for the web. Google needs to push WebM hard with youtube and force other to support it or users to swap browsers to one that does ;)

    It may not be as good as H.264 just yet, but for most we video it’s good enough and will get better with more adoption.

    Thanks G for the $100+ Mil gift.

    1. Actually from reports it’s better than H.264 At least the official implementation, and much better than Apples. I think the only implementation of H264 that is doesn’t beat is x264 project but still the codec is much better built than h264 lets just see how it plays out.

    2. I don’t think Google would ever sacrifice YouTube users by forcing them to switch to a different browser or by forcing browser makers to support their codec. Not to mention, the tools necessary for monetizing videos via HTML5/VP8 are just not there yet — which means the only videos that YouTube is showing in the codec are those it’s not actually placing ads against.

  6. Developer Hopes to Bring H.264 Support to Firefox Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    [...] Google Open Sourcing VP8 as Part of WebM Project See All Articles » Developer Hopes to Bring H.264 Support to Firefox [...]

  7. Lacking DRM, WebM May Lose Out to Flash – PC Magazine | Web project management Thursday, May 20, 2010

    [...] HTML5PR Newswire (press release)Australian Personal Computer -Earthtimes (press release) -NewTeeVee (blog)all 160 news articles » Comments [...]

  8. Video Interview: Why Hardware Support for WebM Matters Thursday, May 20, 2010

    [...]        0 Google assembled an impressive group of partners for the WebM Project it announced yesterday. Perhaps most remarkable was the fact that WebM’s open source video codec VP8 will also be [...]

  9. Google’s Apple Complex on Display at I/O Thursday, May 20, 2010

    [...] And by playing nice with Adobe, Google got the beleaguered company to sign on to have Flash support Google’s new open-source video codec WebM, an alternative to Apple’s codec of choice, [...]

  10. Android Has Won — Time for Chrome OS to Move Along? Monday, May 24, 2010

    [...] dominated the technology conversation last week. Whether it was taking jabs at Apple, launching a competitor to H.264 video technology or simply offering its own version of Amazon S3, the Big G didn’t disappoint its fans (though [...]

Comments have been disabled for this post