VIDEO STREAMING OUTFIT Youtube has effectively struck a heavy blow against Adobe's Flash video format by saying that all new videos uploaded to its servers will be transcoded into WebM format.
Google has been sponsoring the development of the open WebM format that uses the VP8 video codec and Vorbis audio streams. The format has gained significant support with Mozilla's Firefox 4, Opera 10.6 and Google's Chrome web browsers all natively supporting WebM playback. With Youtube announcing that all future videos will be in WebM format, that should put pressure on other web browsers such as Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer to natively support the format.
Youtube's decision to move videos over to the WebM format will reduce the popularity of Adobe's Flash video format. Google has also announced that it is slowly trawling through Youtube's considerable video library converting videos previously stored in Flash video into WebM format. It claims to have already transcoded 30 per cent of all videos on Youtube into WebM, though it is focusing on the most popular ones first.
Aside from switching to the open WebM format, Youtube re-affirmed its commitment to developing its HTML5 video player. The HTML5 video tag supports a number of formats including WebM's VP8 video codec.
Given Youtube's standing in the video streaming market, the format it chooses to adopt will most likely become one that sticks. With its adoption of WebM, it looks like Adobe's grip on the web is loosening and with it the dependency on Adobe's proprietary Flash software. µ