updated 09:30 am EDT, Wed August 5, 2009
Google Buys On2
Google on Wednesday morning said it would buy On2 Technologies in a $106.5 million deal that could improve the quality of YouTube videos. The acquisition gives Google access to On2's video compression methods and is expected to directly translate into one or more of Google's video websites, most likely involving YouTube but potentially Google Video as well. While the search engine giant says it can't talk about product plans, it claims to be "committed to innovation" in video quality on the web.
The two companies expect the corporate union to be approved and completed during the fall.
Google has in the past been criticized for lagging in video quality compared to sites like Vimeo and SmugMug, which were some of the first to play 720p and 1080p video on the web respectively. However, the company started improving video quality in 2007 when it moved to the H.264 video format, in part to help the iPhone, and has since offered both a higher resolution standard definition option as well as a pseudo-HD option for videos recorded above DVD quality.
The upgrades represent both an increased popularity for HD video recording as well as a likely necessary upgrade to begin offering full-length movies and other content that would need improved quality to justify ads or even paid viewing.