Google is buying On2 technologies. Why does this matter?
Open video. Period.
What do I mean? In 2004 the On2 VP6 codec was selected for use as the Flash 8 video codec. So many of the FLV files playing on the web today are compressed using On2’s technology. Since then they’ve also released another generation of codec called VP7 (they need better names). What you have to understand about these compression technologies from a technical standpoint is that they’re freakin’ voodoo! From my own experience working with VP6 several years ago when I built HouseFLIX.com, I was completely dumbfounded at the minimal file sizes that could be produced. Our 3 minute video tours were rarely more than 12 or 13MB and the quality was still looked pretty decent in full-screen mode. I once connected it to a 63" tv and blew it up to full size. It still looked good!
What is Google big mo these days? Open web. They want to make the web into a viable alternative platform to a traditional OS. Therefore, they’re pushing non-proprietary web technologies forward in order to make web-based applications a more compelling alternative to their desktop counterparts. I would be very surprised if they didn’t turn around and open source some of these technologies from On2 so that all of us eager HTML5 developers would have good codec options for use in our
<video> tags. If the web is going to be ready to be a replacement for desktop applications by the time Google releases Chrome OS next fall, some really good, non-proprietary video options are a necessity. I think On2’s technology has the potential to make that happen.