Apple joins video compression group Alliance for Open Media

Apple TV
Apple TV (Apple)

Apple has joined the likes of Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Netflix in the Alliance for Open Media, an industry group launched in 2015 and intent on pushing an open standard for video compression and web delivery.

Apple’s induction into the group was quiet—the company was spotted among the founding members by CNET—but its participation could be a big boost for AOMedia Video (AV1), the royalty-free video codec specification the group is developing and which could serve as an alternative to other codecs like HEVC and VP9. AV1 is built to be interoperable, scalable across multiple devices, optimized for hardware, and for use with real-time video delivery, both of commercial and noncommercial content.

Last November, Facebook joined the group.

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“As the amount of video being watched and shared online continues to grow, we are committed to making the video experience even better,” said Mike Coward, engineering director at Facebook, in a statement. “By joining the Alliance for Open Media at the highest level, Facebook can directly participate in the advancement of technologies to help achieve this mission.”

In 2016, the alliance announced the open source availability of the project.

“The open source availability of our AOMedia Video project with active contributions from industry leaders marks the beginning of a new era of openness and interoperability for internet video,” said Gabe Frost, executive director of the Alliance for Open Media.

RELATED: Apple’s blessing crowns HEVC king of video compression

Because of its sizable market share in devices and online video, Apple wields considerable influence over video standards. Last summer when Apple announced support for HEVC in iOS 11, Peter Moller, CEO of patent pool HEVC Advance, praised Apple’s ability to drive adoption.

“In particular, Apple’s adoption of HEVC will dramatically speed up adoption of this superior technology across all aspects of consumer devices and streaming, both in Apple products and as other market participants, currently on the side-lines, rush to adopt HEVC in their products to remain relevant and competitive. The video industry’s transition from AVC to HEVC encoded content will likewise speed up dramatically as HEVC decoding capability becomes ubiquitous. A big win for everyone and, especially, consumers,” Moller said.

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