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September 30, 2010

The Google has a new JPEG alternative: WebP

The Google is very busy these days! They have just announced that they have a new alternative to JPEG in the works, and they gave it the lovely name of "WebP" :) You may also recall Google is promoting WebM as an alternative to lawyer-controlled H.264 video, and pushing HTML5 as an alternative to Flash and other "walled garden" technologies.

Google is approaching this (initially) as a performance boost alternative, and as you can see, they announce this on the Chromium blog, which covers their Chrome browser and related matters. Google claims that with a sample of one million random images from the internets, they saw an _average_ 39% file-size reduction when compressing those images with WebP instead of JPEG (sample also included some GIF and PNG files). Google also says that image files make 65% of web page data, so by optimizing images, they can noticeably speed up the web.

How good is WebP versus JPEG? We do not know, but Google has set up a comparison page where you can pixel-peep various JPEG vs WebP images.

The tool is already available for download on Linux with Windows coming up soon. Is Google is trying to win back hardcore geeks after their net-neutrality in-bed-with-Verizon fiasco by offering it on Linux first? :)

Google has also setup a discussion group for questions and such.

Of photography interest, if things go according to Google's plans (which is of course not guaranteed), this could mean your galleries and portfolio pages can load up a lot faster, and a lot faster could mean visitors may spend more time browsing your work, or at least not eject immediately because of slow loading times. If this catches on, services such a flickr would probably be able to automatically offer this feature, but if you are managing your site/gallery/blog yourself, you will probably have to do the conversions and web-editing on your own, which can be a lot of work - but you can do this strategically, such as the home page first, then the most visited and most image-heavy pages. (regardless of Web-P vs JPEG, please don't forget to get rid of bloated Flash animations, auto-play sound and video, resizing of the browser window without warning, empty landing pages that just say "click here to enter", and other annoyances that may give a visitor to your site negative first impressions)

Never a dull moment as they say...

Read all about it
+ The Google announcement
+ CNet News
+ variety of reactions to this in the blog-o-sphere are rounded up at Techmeme

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