Via both Wired and Mashable, in the wake of the slow death of Adobe Flash (which we covered here) comes some good news. Several of the biggest tech companies are getting together to create and support an open-source, royalty-free video format for all to use.
This is probably the best thing that could happen when it comes to the future of online video. According to Chris Perkins at Mashable, the plan is create the Alliance for Open Media, a foundation which will actually be developing the video format. Companies involved in the alliance are Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, Intel, Google, Cisco, and Mozilla.
The benefits are that an open-source format can be used and improved by anyone, and, because it is royalty-free, will be available to software developers at basically no cost. It also benefits the consumer, because these various companies won't be trying to force users to constantly switch to, use, or set as default their own specific proprietary video format.
This may seem like it will decrease competition, which is true in way, just not on the content level. Think of it more like movie companies all agreeing to use VHS videotapes in the 80's. It means users will be able to move from device to device (and recorded to live-streaming) more seamlessly.
Perkins notes that two major omissions from the Alliance are Apple and Facebook. Apple most likely held back because they have their own video format (the little-loved Quicktime) and an interest in making their own content. And Facebook just recently got into video and is trying to become a player in that game on their own terms, so that's probably why the social media giant isn't involved.
According to the statement on the Alliance for Open Media's website, the open-source video format is just the initial project of the consortium. So one can probably expect to hear news on the Alliance making other forms of media open-source and available to all in the future as well.