What Google’s WebM Looks Like to Video Digerati in San Diego and Boston

5/26/10Follow @bvbigelow

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president Jeff Whatcott blogs, “most Flash video experiences, including those delivered by Brightcove on behalf of our customers, utilize the H.264 format. H.264 also dominates today’s HTML5 and mobile app video experiences, primarily because it is the only option on the hot iPhone and iPad devices… The only problem with H.264 is that there have been concerns about potentially large royalty pay associated with its online use. These royalty concerns have been pushed out to at least 2016. However, the possibility of substantial royalty liabilities continues to hang like a cloud over the H.264 standard and prevents browsers like Mozilla and Opera from adopting it.

“Until WebM, there was no alternative to H.264 that was free and of sufficient quality to become pervasive across Flash, HTML5, and mobile app video experiences. Ogg Theora is free, but suffers from quality and efficiency concerns that make it a weak contender… And now that the technology is open sourced under a royalty free Mozilla license, WebM has become ‘both free and good’ format that has been missing from the market.”

Sorenson Media CEO Peter Csathy was quick to emphasize that Sorenson’s online video platform was already supporting WebM and the VP8 technical standards. The Carlsbad, CA- and Salt Lake City-based startup got some advance notice about WebM, but Csathy says his team still “worked literally days, nights, weekends—whatever it took—to make this happen.” Csathy also made a point of noting that other video hosting providers, including, specifically, Cambridge, MA-based Brightcove, are merely planning to support VP8 “at some point in the future.”

—In a subsequent post, Csathy raises the patent infringement issue with the H.264 video standard and concludes, “MPEG LA is setting the stage to seek its pound of flesh from those unwitting souls who plan to use VP8. At a minimum, the organization is sowing the seeds of uncertainty and doubt in order to keep H.264 in its place as the high quality video heavyweight. And, who is a member of MPEG LA? Well, there are many—but, perhaps most interesting in this case, are our good friends at Apple. That’s right, Apple.”

—In one of the better blog posts I found, VMIX Senior Director of Engineering Lei Pan writes, “Whether WebM is truly patent-free, as stated by Google, remains to be seen, but having a video format with the potential to be as widely adopted and supported as H.264 is ground-breaking.” Pan notes that San Diego’s VMIX, along with YouTube and Facebook, uses the … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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