Google's plans for new web video standard

It's all go over in San Francisco at the Google I/O conference with plenty of tech news breaking by the minute. One of the most interesting stories though, is one that might not make the most headlines. It involves the introduction of WebM, a Google-powered web media project.

WebM includes the introduction of the V8 open source video codec that Google hopes will compete with H.264 to become the codec of choice for the HTML5 standard. Google has got Mozilla and Opera on board supporting WebM, but it faces stiff opposition from Microsoft and Apple, who are both in the H.264 camp.

One trick WebM does have up its sleeve though, is that Google owns YouTube. Google said: "The VP8 and WebM specifications as released on May 19, 2010, are final, and we encourage everyone to use them for developing applications. Google, Mozilla and Opera are all adding WebM support to their browsers and all videos that are 720p or larger uploaded to YouTube after May 19 will be be encoded in WebM as part of its HTML5 experiment".

The big issue that Google has with H.264 is that is doesn't come cheap. From 2015 royalty fees will be payable and WebM offers a royalty free alternative.

"Many video codecs are plagued with uncertainty when it come to patent rights and licensing costs", said Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google. "The Web needs an open standard".

It's an ongoing debate and one that is far from resolved. Throw Flash into the equation as well and you've got an all out video codec Royal Rumble. Who's your money on?