Google starts using HTML5 and WebM for premium content

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Google has quietly started to switch some aspects of its premium content offerings to its open source WebM video format. Google’s WebM product manager John Luther explained during a developer Hangout Wednesday that YouTube and Google Play video rentals are now using WebM as opposed to Flash on Samsung’s Chromebooks. “We will be rolling that out on more Chrome OS devices and other platforms soon,” he added.

Luther went on to explain that Google did a lot of work on the security layer that delivers the videos encrypted to an HTML5 player. “As far as I know, we are the first to ever do that,” he said.

He added that there is a lot of interest from other content services to use this type of technology for their offerings as well because it would allow them to deliver video to a variety of platforms that support HTML5, as opposed to customizing solutions for each and every platform. “A lot of content providers really want to do HTML5,” he said.


WebM was open sourced by Google in 2010, and the company has been working on integrating the format into both real-time video communication as well as video delivery for sites like YouTube. It was meant to become an open, royalty-free alternative to the predominant H.264 video codec, but the overwhelming majority of videos are arguably still delivered in H.264. Luther replied Wednesday by saying that H.264 had the same kind of adoption curve, adding: “I’m very bullish on VP8 for the next … many years.”

Nonetheless, Google is already working on a successor to WebM’s VP8 video codec, which is unsurprisingly called VP9. “VP9 is starting to come together, and we are seeing some pretty amazing results,” reported Luther. “We are seeing huge imporvements over VP8. It’s kind of a gigantic leap forward.”

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