At Google’s I/O conference today the company announced a new open source video format that rivals H.264 for web video called WebM. Many opponents of H.264 have long argued the fact that it is too closed and could require licensing fees to use in the future. This even caused a rift in deciding a standard video component for HTML5 for web browsers. Apple sided with H.264 while others sought out an open source alternative. With Google’s WebM project they hope to solve this problem by using the VP8 codec for web video. The new format is targeted at low power mobile devices, clearly intended to replace the need for H.264 on phones.

To help launch the new project they announced immediate support in future builds of Firefox and Google Chrome. YouTube has also added integration to support WebM. Both Opera and even Internet Explorer 9 have confirmed playback support in the future. Adobe has pledged Flash player support of the codec as well, making it very easy for companies to start using it right away. The one company that still has not said anything regarding the new project is Apple.

Of course Apple has been a huge leader in support of H.264 video for their products. By using it with HTML5 they have started a war against using Adobe Flash for web video on mobile devices like the iPhone. So far Apple has been keen on using H.264 because of it powerful scalability. It will be interesting to see how Apple responds to WebM and if they will support it or not. If they choose to use it there is no doubt that the WebM project would be highly successful given the countless partnerships Google has already formed around it.