According to CNET's Stephen Shankland, this new image format, WebP, is derived from Google's WebM video technology and will make its debut later today. Google's lead product manager on the company's "make the web faster" program told CNET that "65 percent of bytes on the Web are from images." A decrease in the average size of these images could improve a user's web experience considerably.In its drive to speed up the Web, Google plans to introduce a new image format today that can cut the file size of an image by 40% when compared to a standard JPEG file.
Rabbat told CNET that 90% of the images Google tested showed "WebP offering the same quality with 40 percent smaller file sizes." The remaining images were mostly logos and illustrations where formats like PNG currently have the upper hand. Just like the JPEG format, WebP will likely work best for photos.
New Image Format Will Fight an Uphill Battle
There are some caveats here, though. First of all, no current browser can actually display this new format yet. While Google's Chrome will likely be the first to support it, web developers and designers aren't likely to embrace a new image format until it's supported by all modern browsers. As Shankland also notes, Microsoft has made a similar move by backing the JPEG XR format but hasn't been able to get other browser developers to support this format yet (currently, it only works in the company's own Internet Explorer).
In talking to Shankland, Rabbat also noted that encoding WebP images take eight times longer than JPEG ones.
We have asked Google for more information and will update this post once we hear more (or once Google makes an official announcement).