Three-Way Dance: Google Leads Charge Towards New, Royalty-Free H.264 Alternative

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Wow, that didn't take long.  No sooner did we report that 26% of Web video was now H.264/HTML5 compliant  — meaning Flash-free, and iDevice-friendly — than a consortium of Google, Mozilla, and Opera have fired back with an open-source, royalty-free alternative to H.264.

The WebM Project centers around the VP8 video codec (which Google acquired via its recent purchase of On2 Technologies) and the open-source Vorbis audio codec.  WebM can be coded into any online video player, including ones written in Flash.

So why do we need ANOTHER video standard?  It turns out H.264 is royalty-free for now, but not for long — the MPEG-LA consortium, who own the rights to the codec, plan to start collecting royalties in 2015.  So WebM can be seen as both a reaction to Apple's "Flash Not Spoken Here" policy and a pre-emptive strike against MPEG-LA's deadline.

Current plans are to build WebM compatibility into Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers — and, not surprisingly, the Google-owned YouTube.  (Duh.)

[Via TechCrunch]