What is WebM?
WebM is an open, royalty-free audiovisual media file format developed as an alternative to HTML5 video and audio elements. It leverages a container format, not unlike the Matroska (or MKV) video format, to store and share both audio and video data on the internet. WebM video files are compressed using the VP8 or VP9 codec, and the audio streams use the Vorbis or Opus codec for compression.
As WebM is for video sharing, there is another open project, WebP, for images.
Benefits of WebM
- It is open-source: A key advantage of WebM is that it is 100% free and open to innovation and improvement; it is built using robust technologies like TCP/IP, HTTP, and HTML.
- Web-optimized for the web. WebM is an ideal format of choice for sharing videos on the internet, for which it was developed. Traditional video formats were developed to cater to offline mediums and TV broadcasts.
- Low computational power: It does not require significant computational power to start playback on devices, whether handheld smartphones and tablets or desktop computers.
- Simple format: A simple container format ensures high-quality, real-time video delivery. WebM doesn't require a multitude of codec profiles to encode video.
WebM vs. MP4
MP4 has the upper hand where quality and compatibility are concerned. However, WebM files are smaller than MP4. This is because WebM was developed to share videos on the internet, so the compression rate of WebM is higher than MP4. Although this also means WebM compression leads to more data loss and, thus, relatively lower quality than MP4.