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Summary:

Google’s new open source video format WebM will become more popular than H.264 in one to two years, Brightcove’s President and COO David Mendels predicts. One of the first major websites to try out WebM for its web videos could be the New York Times.

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Brightcove President and COO David Mendels thinks that it won’t take very long for WebM to overtake H.264, he told me during an interview on the day Google announced its new open source video format last week. Video publishers will be eager to adopt the new format, he said, adding: “It’s open, it’s free and it’s high quality. So what’s not to like?” Check out the complete interview below.

Brightcove is one of a handful of encoding and video platform companies that was part of Google’s official announcement, and Mendels told me that the company already has a demo implementation of WebM up and running. It’s not quite ready for deployment with Brightcove’s customers, especially since most end users don’t have browsers that play back WebM yet, but Mendels said that’s only a question of time. “I think it will happen really quickly,” he told me.

One of the first Brightcove customers to test WebM could be the New York Times. The paper was an early adopter of HTML5 streaming for the iPad, and Mendels said that it has been “consistently progressive” about embracing new trends.

Some commenters doubt whether Google will be able to achieve significant market share for WebM anytime soon, but Mendels didn’t seem too worried about that. The online video world will be fragmented for the next three years, he predicted, but WebM will quickly be able to gain the upper hand. “One to two years… is a pretty reasonable guess,” he said.

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  1. Three years? I totally disagree. There is no hardware decoding for mobile devices, Apple won’t support it, MS won’t support it on their devices and IE won’t support it out of the box.

    1. 3 years is an extremely long time. It’s not as if mobile H.264 hardware acceleration is ubiquitous at this point. Depending on the hardware, temporary drivers could still significantly decrease VP8 CPU load.

      Or put another way, webm on 3 years technology without acceleration should be at worst equal to accelerated H.264 today.

      Microsoft seems to be more receptive to webm now than they were to web standards back in IE7 days. They just documented the Outlook PST file for open sourcers, don’t think they’ll stop to be stubborn like Apple.

    2. Apple and Microsoft have surprisingly little choice.

      Every Mac and PC comes with Adobe Flash pre-installed, and have done for years. Adobe is supporting WebM and claims 98% update rates within a year. And if more advanced HTML5 opportunities are offered in browsers then it’s just one more reason to ditch the built in browser for Chrome, Firefox or Opera.

      I believe Microsoft has already commited to Flash on their devices too which is another box ticked.

      On the desktop Apple’s incredibly restrictive codec policies already mean that people already need to install apps like VLC and Handbrake to consume or create many common filetypes. Perian, one of the popular choices, packages FFMPEG for Quicktime. Once FFMPEG updates to include WebM (already in progress), Perian will auto-update to it as well. Then every Quicktime-enabled application will be able to import and export VP8, and at qualities far higher that Apple’s own H.264 encoder, which wasn’t even as good as VP7. Plus, Apple ignored hardware acceleration on the desktop for years and only enabled it now on certain hardware so if you Apple computer is more than about a year old, the VP8 decode will have no disadvantage, it’ll be software versus software.

      Plus, there is already hardware decoding for devices. Actual devices, in people’s pockets today can be firmware updated as can video cards etc. if Apple lets them.

  2. Oh man I LOVE Mad Libs! Let’s see how this plays out:

    Replace “format” & “WebM” with “YouTube Pro” and observe:

    Video publishers will be eager to adopt the new YouTube Pro, he said, adding: “It’s open, it’s free and it’s high quality. So what’s not to like?” Check out the complete interview below.

    ..

    Some commenters doubt whether Google will be able to achieve significant market share for YouTube Pro anytime soon, but Mendels didn’t seem too worried about that. The online video world will be fragmented for the next three years, he predicted, but YouTube Pro will quickly be able to gain the upper hand. “One to two years… is a pretty reasonable guess,” he said

    Be careful who you play with Brightcove.

  3. Well, it’s Brightcove. They’re a company whose sole reason for being relevant today is the fact that they shipped HTML5 authoring tools and made it available to major content producers before Adobe did.

    Naturally they’ll make noise on how WebM could be the next big thing for HTML5 video since it means more business coming their way.

    A more realistic figure would be 12 years… just in time for finalizing the rest of the HTML5 spec in 2012.

    1. Er, make that 2022, I was off by a decade.

      Although I hear 2012 has got this significant end-of-the-world event by the Mayans. Not enough time for WebM to make it big either.

  4. New VLC Version Supports WebM, H.264 Hardware Decoding Thursday, May 27, 2010

    [...] Brightcove President: WebM Will Overtake H.264 in 1-2 Years [...]

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