YouTube Finally Launches An Official Wii App, Largest WebM Video Deployment Yet

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The Wii isn’t exactly the hottest console on the market anymore, and the lack of HD support makes it less than ideal for watching videos, but that hasn’t stopped YouTube from finally launching its official Wii app today – just six years after the launch of the Wii. The app is now available for download in the Nintendo Wii Shop Channel, though for the time being, it’s U.S.-only.

By finally adding the Wii, YouTube now offers official apps for all of the three major gaming platforms in the U.S. (Xbox, PlayStation and the Wii).

In total, Google says, the service is now available on over 400 million devices and YouTube already announced that it would also be available on the forthcoming Wii U.

YouTube on Wii: Largest WebM Deployment in The World

As Google notes in a separate announcement, this app uses WebM, the Google-backed open and royalty free video format. According to Google, this is the largest WebM deployment yet. The low-res 360p WebM format, YouTube says, turned out to perform very well on the Wii. The console’s relatively small amount of memory, too, meant the format was a suitable candidate for the aging hardware, as “WebM is particularly well-suited to devices where available memory is limited, because of its technical approach to video encoding.” WebM’s efficient use of reference frames helped keep the memory footprint down, but the team still performed some low-level optimizations of the VP8 decoder to tune it to the Wii’s processor. You can read more about this project here.

In April 2011, Google started transcoding all of its users’ newly uploaded videos to WebM by default and also began work to update the rest of its library. WebM is currently supported by all of the major browser vendors, including Firefox, Opera and, of course, Google’s Chrome. Internet Explorer users need to download a plugin to see WebM videos.

Just this month, the WebM project also announced that the Wikimedia Foundation would start using WebM in its HTML5 video player and the project also recently launched its new encoders and decoders for VP8 hardware IP cores.