The world’s largest video-streaming website has announced plans to store all their videos in the WebM format and have already started to transcode all new uploads to this format; work is underway to convert the existing ones and 30% of their most popular videos, accounting for 99% of views, had already been converted.
Actions speak louder than words. YouTube’s announcement is a huge endorsement for the WebM format – one of the two contenders to be the de-facto standard for HTML5 video, which is also spearheaded by (no surprises here) Google. By having YouTube show its support for WebM, Google’s intention is probably to build demand momentum for WebM-optimised software (e.g. browsers) and equipment (hardware-acceleration), which would in turn give users better user-experience and drive further demand for WebM videos. This would exert pressure on Safari and Internet Explorer – the two strongholds of its arch-rival H.264 format -to provide native support for WebM. YouTube’s final act would likely be to pull the plug on H.264; even though YouTube has stated that it would still provide support for H.264 format, I suspect that it would eventually drop support for H.264 once WebM adoption has reached critical mass.