Google’s Partners Will Drive WebM Adoption

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Google announced this morning at its I/O developers conference that it has rolled out its open source WebM Project, offering up a high-quality, open video codec to compete with industry incumbent H.264. While the search giant will use YouTube as one way to drive adoption of the platform, it’s Google’s partners that will help push the format forward.

With support from Mozilla Firefox, Opera and a group of 40 other vendors, the WebM Project will launch with a large amount of support from the industry. Getting the open source browser vendors to support VP8 as an alternative to H.264 was a no-brainer, but getting hardware support and support from Adobe’s Flash will make it widely available not just on the PC, but also across a wide range of mobile devices.

The biggest news was probably Adobe’s support for the WebM initiative, with its inclusion of VP8 as one of the codecs it will support in its Flash player technology. That will make VP8 available to more than a billion users over the next year, according to Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch. Adobe’s support for the codec should not be too surprising, as it comes at the same time that the software vendor has been caught in a very vocal standoff against Apple for its non-support of Flash on the iPad and iPhone, and its support of HTML5 video and H.264 at the same time.

While Google lined up broad support from a number of chip makers and hardware providers, including AMD, Broadcom and NVIDIA, Intel was surprisingly missing from the list of WebM partners. The lack of a logo from Intel is surprising, considering that the chip maker is widely expected to be part of Google’s “Smart TV” initiative, which would bring video apps to the TV through the Android OS.

On the platforms and publishers side of things, cloud encoding vendors like Encoding.com, HD Cloud and Zencoder will help publishers that wish to take advantage of the new codec to easily re-encode their video assets. Meanwhile, support from video management platforms like Brightcove, Ooyala and Kaltura will enable video publishers to distribute video to browsers and devices that support H.264 and VP8.

Here’s a full list of vendors that have announced support for WebM.

  • Software: Android, Anystream, Collabora, Corecodec, Firefox, Adobe Flash, Google Chrome, Harmonic, iLinc, Inlet, Opera, ooVoo, Skype, Sorenson Media, Theora.org, Telestream, Wildform.
  • Hardware: AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Digital Rapids, Freescale, Logitech, Imagination Technologies, Marvell, MIPS Technologies, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, VeriSilicon, and ViewCast.
  • Platforms and Publishers: Brightcove, Encoding.com, HD Cloud, Kaltura, Ooyala, YouTube, Zencoder

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. We first reported Google’s plans a month ago, which were confirmed with the open source release of the VP8 codec at the developers conference today.

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