Apple and Microsoft find themselves in the same corner of the web video war started today by Google with the announcement of their new VP8 video codec and WebM project.
Yes, Microsoft and Apple, vs. Google and Adobe. Ugh. How things have changed.
Google have lined up Adobe, Firefox, Opera as well as some other players behind the new format. No doubt, its YouTube property with 40% of the web video market will be a big asset. In a surprising move, Adobe said they’d update their billion Flash clients to be able to use the new VP8 HTML5 format, which would put the capability to play VP8 on Internet Explorer and Safari, even if Microsoft and Apple didn’t want to add native support.
VP8 isn’t supported widely (at all?) in hardware so it will tax the batteries of mobile devices to play the Open Source format. That might change, however.
Google’s Chrome Browser currently plays both Theora and H.264 video. It isn’t certain if Google will continue to support H.264 or if other browser vendors will support multiple formats.
Apple and Microsoft are both in the MPEG LA group and recieve very small royalities from the usage of H.264 video. It isn’t certain why Google was making the move to VP8, but the possibility that it would have to pay royalties on 40% of the web’s video might be a motivator.