Google is introducing a new compressed image format called WebP (pronounced “weppy”). It’s like JPG, PNG and GIF but better. Apparently the resulting images with WebP are 40% smaller than a jpg file at the same quality.

But why bother with another file type. There are two very good reasons for that. Bandwidth costs and downloading speeds. Web pages on the web today are full of images and they make up at least 50% or more of the total bandwidth required for an average page. WebP can potentially make the web 25% faster in average for users and could cut bandwidth costs potentially by a quarter. This ratio can be significantly higher for sites with lot of large images.

For this new standard to take hold a lot has to happen. First of all, most browsers have to support WebP. Chrome will have WebP support within weeks and I speculate Safari and Firefox will follow shortly. It will take years for IE to follow, but eventually it will support it too. Second, we need Photoshop and other image editors to export WebP. Third, we need a web server solution to convert existing images on websites to WebP format dynamically depending whether the user is using a browser that supports WebP.

Do you think WebP will be a good change for the web or just one more standard to worry about?


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