WebP: who gains?

Google announced open sourcing its so called revolutionary image format on their chrome blog.

The image format looks promising, as it claims to cut down the image size by 40% on average. Google have tested this image format on more than 1 million images before quoting this improvement figure. So, we have reasons to believe them regarding the potential this format offers.

WebP has a long way to go, though. Today, almost all devices support JPEG, the most widely accepted lossy and efficient image format. WebP/GPEG or any other format, even if promising, would take years to get even a small percentage of the adoption compared to JPEG. Google would have to work with many major software and electronic equipment vendors to achieve this feat.

The question remains: Do we really think Google is promoting this format because it deeply believes in open source movement? In my view, WebP provides more than that to Google. With ever increasing size of world wide web, Google has been experimenting with many algorithms to index the web faster and faster. Map Reduce and Percolator are the recent examples.

The problem of indexing rapidly growing internet can further be simplified if the websites use less bandwidth consuming file format, and use technologies that help in minimizing the content size (e.g. inflate/gzip compression of web pages, optimizing image size using loss-less compression, browser cache, minifying html/css/js etc). Google started thinking in this direction when they launched Page Speed tool. Caffeine was a step further in this direction. Now Google ranks websites considering their load speed too.

google monopoly
Google monopoly

Sadly enough, Google today has become dictator of the internet. Regular revelations of their indexing algorithm ingredients (Matt Cutts’ job profile :)) have made this matter even worse. More people now understand the important factors to get a good ranking on Google, compared to a few years earlier. When a dictator decides to self-promote, nobody has any option but to listen and follow.

WebP is another tool for Google in this chain. We have to see who benefits from this format: Google or us?

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