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Google Announces 'WebM' Open-Source Video Format, Plans for Android Television Integration

Google today is making a number of major announcements at its Google I/O conference in San Francisco, with several of them directly related to Apple's offerings and supported standards.

First, Google announced the launch of The WebM Project, a new open-source, royalty-free video file format that appears set to take on Apple-backed H.264 for the future of Web-based video. The WebM project is based on V8, a file format from long-time video format firm On2 Technologies, which was acquired by Google earlier this year.

WebM not only has the significant backing of Google, which will be building support for the format into its Chrome browser and YouTube, but also Mozilla and Opera, which will be including support for it in their browsers. It is unknown at this time whether Apple will support WebM in its Safari browser, although it appears likely it will given the strength behind the new format.

Second, Bloomberg notes that Google will be teaming up with Intel to bring its Android software to television sets and other home entertainment equipment, seeking to obtain a dominant position in the rapidly-growing connected TV industry.

"This is a new frontier for Google," said Ray Valdes, an analyst at Gartner Inc. "It's a return to traditional mass media concepts."

To attract consumers, Google will need to provide a broad variety of easily searchable programming and let viewers chat or post comments about it online, on a single screen, Valdes said.

The report pegs Google's effort in contrast to Apple's attempts in the arena with the Apple TV, which has seen only limited success in what the company has repeatedly referred to as a "hobby". Google's effort will seek to move beyond the standalone Apple TV box directly into Web-connected televisions, which have begun to take hold with consumers. According to one study cited in the report, an estimated 46% of flat-panel televisions shipped in 2013 will be Web-connected, up from 19% today.