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Google, Microsoft and Netflix team up on free video formats

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
September 1, 2015
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It's no secret that many tech companies hate video formats that are closed, cost money or both -- enough so that they'll drop popular standards and develop their own codecs. There hasn't been a concerted attempt to tackle this problem, however, which is why several industry giants have just launched the Alliance for Open Media. Founding members Amazon, Cisco, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla and Netflix are working on a future video format that should be royalty-free, open to anyone and playable on just about any modern device. It's still extremely early (the group hasn't even said how others can join), but you should hear more about their efforts later this year.

While it's not stated, the Alliance is effectively trying to make an end run around MPEG LA, the group that licenses big video formats like H.264 and H.265. If the Alliance can create a standard that catches on, it'd eliminate one of the common costs for offering video playback on devices and through the internet. However, that's a big "if." The tech industry is notorious for developing formats that either take ages to arrive or quickly fizzle out. Also, Apple isn't one of the founders. Unless the Alliance can convince Apple to hop aboard, it may have trouble reaching the widest possible audience -- just look at what happened when Cupertino refused to support Flash on its mobile hardware.

[Image credit: Shutterstock]

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