Five important items of note today relating to Mozilla’s support for the VP8 codec:
1. Google will be releasing VP8 under an open source and royalty-free basis. VP8 is a high-quality video codec that Google acquired when they purchased the company On2. The VP8 codec represents a vast improvement in quality-per-bit over Theora and is comparable in quality to H.264.
2. The VP8 codec will be combined with the Vorbis audio codec and a subset of the Matroska container format to build a new standard for Open Video on the web called WebM. You can find out more about the project at its new site: http://www.webmproject.org/.
3. We will include support for WebM in Firefox. You can get super-early WebM builds of Firefox 4 pre-alpha today. WebM will also be included in Google Chrome and Opera.
4. Every video on YouTube will be transcoded into WebM. They have about 1.2 million videos available today and will be working through their back catalog over time. But they have committed to supporting everything.
5. This is something that is supported by many partners, not just Google and others. Content providers like Brightcove have signed up to support WebM as part of a full HTML5 video solution. Hardware companies, encoding providers and other parts of the video stack are all part of the list of companies backing WebM. Even Adobe will be supporting WebM in Flash. Firefox, with its market share and principled leadership and YouTube, with its video reach are the most important partners in this solution, but we are only a small part of the larger ecosystem of video.
We’re extremely excited to see Google joining us to support Open Video. They are making technology available on terms consistent with the Open Web and the W3C Royalty-Free licensing terms. And – most importantly – they are committing to support a full open video stack on the world’s largest video site. This changes the landscape for video and moves the baseline for what other sites have to do to maintain parity and keep up with upcoming advances in video technology, not to mention compatibility with the set of browsers that are growing their userbase and advancing technology on the web.
At Mozilla, we’ve wanted video on the web to move as fast as the rest of the web. That has required a baseline of open technology to build on. Theora was a good start, but VP8 is better. Expect us to start pushing on video innovation with vigor. We’ll innovate like the web has, moving from the edges in, with dozens of small revolutions that add up to something larger than the sum of those parts. VP8 is one of those pieces, HTML5 is another. If you watch this weblog, you can start to see those other pieces starting to emerge as well. The web is creeping into more and more technologies, with Firefox leading the way. We intend to keep leading the web beyond HTML5 to the next place it needs to be.
Today is a day of great change. Tomorrow will be another.