Apple’s WebKit has taken a higher profile in Web Standards terms, following the appointment of the company’s WebKit manager, Maciej Stachowiak, to the World Wide Web Consortium’s HTML Working Group.

Stachowiak has become a co-chairman of the group standardizing HTML, giving Apple a higher-profile role at a crucial time for development of the language used to build Web pages.

Until now the HTML Working Group had been led by IBM’s Sam Ruby and Microsoft’s Chris Wilson, who has stepped down to be replaced by Apple’s Stachowiak and also Paul Cotton, who manages the Microsoft Web services standards team.

The news was announced by email today by W3C Director Tim Berners-Lee. He wrote: “Stachowiak is Manager of the WebKit WebApps Team at Apple, and a longtime developer on the WebKit open source browser engine. He was one of the earliest engineers on the Safari project. Maciej has been contributing to Web standards for some time, most notably HTML5, and the various specifications of the Web Apps Working Group. He is also a member of the WHATWG steering committee.”

(What’s also pretty interesting here is that these words confirm Apple’s high degree of interest in the multimedia-friendly HTML 5 standard, which we think we’ll be hearing a whole lot more about in future. Interestingly, Microsoft only began HTML 5 discussion in earnest earlier this month.)

Berners-Lee continues: “Why three co-Chairs? Clearly, there is a lot of work to do. Sam, Paul, and Maciej bring particular skills to the job (whether it is Maciej’s experience with WebKit or Paul’s with Working Group processes). I am confident that these three will work out a chairing protocol where progress is consistent with this group’s culture.

“The work of this group is tremendously important to the Web. I am pleased that all three co-Chairs have taken on the responsibility for working closely with the editor and group to make HTML 5 a success.”

Some may recall future versions of the BlackBerry browser are intended to support HTML 5.

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