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WebM VP9 video codec is almost complete, on its way to YouTube in near future

The Google-sponsored WebM Project has now announced it is putting the finishing touches on its upcoming VP9 video codec, which is expected to make its way over to YouTube later this year.
May 14, 2013

The future of online video compression technology is almost here. The Google-sponsored WebM Project has now announced it is putting the finishing touches on its upcoming VP9 video codec, with plans to finish defining it by June 17. After that date, Google will not only start pushing out the technology to the Chrome browser, but also intends to utilize it on YouTube.

So what exactly is WebM? Right now, WebM technology utilizes the VP8 codec and is Google’s royalty-free alternative to the dominant web video codec, H.264.

Of course, technology doesn’t stand still for long. In January, the H.265 standard arrived, bringing with it the ability to essentially cut a DVD-quality video down from a 700MB file size to as little as 350MB. With VP9, Google is hoping to bring a similar performance boost to its WebM technology.

So why does this matter to you? In short, it makes watching all those cuddly kitten videos all the more efficient.

This is especially important for those of us with slower mobile connections, such as 3G. It can also be important for countries where “high-speed Internet” isn’t exactly all that speedy. For those with faster connections, the technology can also open the door to higher resolution support down the road.

A royalty-free video compression tech with similar efficiency to H.265 sounds great, right? There’s just one potential problem, Nokia.

The Nokia Factor

Back in March, MPEG LA agreed to give Google a license on patents that are essential to VP8, and potentially to VP9 as well. In total, 11 parties signed the deal, out of the original 12 involved. Who didn’t sign? Nokia.

Since then, Nokia has come forward and said that they hold 64 patents and 22 pending patents that could pertain to VP8. They have also made it clear they aren’t interested in committing to a royalty-free or fair licensing agreement. This means that any one who intends to use VP8 or VP9 might have to face a lawsuit from Nokia in the future. This could be certainly be enough to hinder WebM’s adoption going forward.

What do you think of VP8 and VP9, how do you feel it compares to Advanced Video Coding (H.264) and High Efficiency Video Coding (H.265)?