Google introduces new Web video standard, splits industry

May 19, 2010: 3:03 PM ET

Google today announced the release of VP8, a new video codec that it envisions will pave the way for the future of video on the Web.

Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch Photo Credit: Jon Fortt

While it wasn't mentioned once during the keynote, VP8 takes dead aim at MPEG LA's H.264 codec, which has the backing of industry heavyweights like Apple and Microsoft (who are both members of MPEG LA).

VP8 technology stems from Google's purchase of On2 Technologies last year.  On2 is the company behind the Theora codecs that Opera and Mozilla use for HTML5 video.

Google says it aims to create an open web standard for video, one that doesn't have closed, proprietary ownership like MPEG LA's H.264

Opera and Mozilla both sent representatives to the keynote to trumpet the virtues of a free and open standard for Web video.

A little back-of-the-napkin market share analysis:

  • Internet Explorer and Safari have about 66% of the browser market (H.264)
  • Chrome, Firefox, and Opera have the other 33% (VP8)
  • Google's Youtube makes up about 40% of all video content on the Web

Although they are the underdog at the moment, Google has enlisted a new secret weapon in this battle.  Adobe's CEO Kevin Lynch mentioned at the end of his presentation that Adobe would be pushing out a VP8-compatible version of Flash to its 1 billion Flash clients; one that would be a VP8 Trojan Horse for Apple's Safari browser and Internet Explorer.

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Seth Weintraub
Seth Weintraub

Google went from searching the Web to worming its way into nearly every facet of business and government. Seth Weintraub unveils where the company is going, who it's competing with, who it's about to compete with and how market forces push the company to veer or adhere to its Don't Be Evil motto. For 15 years, Weintraub was a global IT director for a number of companies before becoming a blogger.

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