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

It’s been a week since Google announced a new open-source video project called WebM at its I/O Developers Conference in San Francisco, with the online media giant arguing that streaming video—like nearly everything else on the Internet—just wants to be free. So it seemed like a good time to see how some digital video technology companies are reacting to the move.

In announcing its WebM project, Google (which owns YouTube) said it was joining forces with roughly 40 other companies, including Japan’s Sony, Intel, Adobe, and Logitech to promote the use of WebM under a permissive free software license. Conspicuously missing from the list were Microsoft and Apple. In its statement, the Mountain View, CA, company said, “With Google TV, consumers will now be able to search and watch an expanded universe of content available from a variety of sources including TV providers, the web, their personal content libraries, and mobile applications.”

The WebM technology includes the VP8 video codec, which Google acquired as part of its $140 million buyout of On2 Technologies earlier this year, and Ogg Vorbis, an open source audio codec that’s already widely implemented. A wrinkle that drew much media attention, however, is that Google’s plans to freely license WebM technology could run afoul of MPEG LA—the licensing body for the rival H.264 video codec.

So what was the reaction among digital video leaders from coast to coast?

—At Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), the vice president of product management in CDMA Technologies, Rag Talluri, writes in a blog post that the San Diego wireless giant is “a strong supporter” of WebM and openly available standards. “This is why we are excited that the company behind the biggest online video portal is enabling the VP8 initiative,” Talluri says. “We thus continue to collaborate with On2/Google’s engineering teams to support VP8 codec on our mobile platforms and deliver a rich video experience on Qualcomm-powered mobile devices. “

—In Cambridge, MA, Brightcove marketing vice … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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