Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) announced this week in a blog post that it has started to convert videos on YouTube to the open-source WebM format more aggressively, moving away from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL)-backed H.264. According to Google, until now approximately 30% of its catalog -- which makes up 99% of the views on the popular website -- was available in the WebM format.

To convert the remaining videos at a rapid pace, Google leverages its cloud infrastructure whenever computational capacities are free. At busy times, the WebM transcoding is paused to free resources for users uploading new content. For now, Google intends to continue supporting H.264. That's not surprising, since it's the only codec usable on mobile devices from Apple, including the iPhone and iPad -- and since there's no Flash allowed on these devices, this is basically the only means they have to watch YouTube.

Also a lot of devices have been equipped with hardware acceleration for H.264, which allows for power savings and in some cases enables the playback of HD content that would otherwise not be possible. For WebM hardware acceleration, support is non-existent at this point. If you're interested in testing HTML5 video on YouTube, it is possible to opt in at the HTML5 page. Specific restrictions and requirements are outlined on the site.

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