WebM is a media file format designed for use on the web. It competes with Adobe's Flash format and H.264 and has a major advantage in being an open, royalty-free multimedia format. It defines a matroska-like multimedia container structure consisting of video compressed with the open VP8 codec and audio compressed with the Vorbis audio codec.
The WebM project grew largely out of Google's acquisition of On2 Technologies in 2009. The project distributes WebM related software under a BSD license structure.
It was announced at Google's I/O conference in 2010, at which time the support of the Mozilla Firefox browser, Opera browser and Google Chrome browswer was revealed. Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 will also support WebM content as long as the necessary codecs are installed. Media players such as the VLC player will natively support WebM. Google's Android mobile operating system is also slated to get support for WebM in the fourth quarter of 2010.
As for where to find WebM content, Google's video giant YouTube already offers WebM videos with its HTML 5 experimental player with all video files with a resolution higher than 720p being automatically encoded to WebM (420p + 720p as of August 2010) when uploaded to the site.
The WebM project hopes to acheve the following goals..
- Low computational footprint to enable playback on any device, including low-power netbooks, handhelds, tablets, etc.
- Simple container format
- Highest quality real-time video delivery
- Click and encode. Minimal codec profiles, sub-options; when possible, let the encoder make the tough choices.
As of August 2010, the developer preview releases of browsers supporting WebM are not optimized thoroughly and therefore, for now, have a higher computational footprint for screen rendering than the project expects for general releases.