HTML5 video has a few hurdles to leap before it can fully replace Flash, but one looms larger than all others: Proprietary video formats. Conveniently, Google has just open-sourced their own, called WebM.
If you’ve been following the Flash/HTML5/h.264 drama for the last few months, this news might sound a little familiar: That’s because back in August of last year, Google acquired a firm called On2, a video compression company with handful of video codecs – the VP series, including the latest, VP8. Many people suspected that Google, which owns YouTube, would roll support for these codecs into their products, including Chrome browser, and possibly even open-source VP8.
And, well, that’s what they’ve done: They’ve effectively open-sourced VP8, under the name WebM.
What this means is that anyone building a web video site, or a browser, now has a new alternative to h.264, the preferred proprietary standard, and OGG, another open source standard that pretty much nobody uses.