Google is introducing a new format for images: WebP. Images on the web in this format — which CNET reports will be officially announced later today — will have smaller file sizes, load faster and relieve a lot of overclocked networks. They won’t necessarily look better — WebP images are as “glossy” as JPEGs — but the files might be around 40% smaller than JPEG files. And since Google () estimates 65% of the bytes on the web are images, that represents a quarter of the total amount of data we access and transmit online. Who wouldn’t change formats for a web that could be 26% faster? The sticking point is JPEG’s popularity. This format dominates the web and related devices, from Flickr () to Twitpic () to our mobile phones and cameras. But if any company could challenge and change a norm, it’s Google. Google released its WebM video format at Google I/O, the company’s developer conference. This format was to be supported in HTML5’s <video> tag. In the world of video, Google has one huge advantage: YouTube (). The company decided that all video uploaded in 720p or higher would be be encoded in WebM in addition to H.264. However, Google doesn’t have the same advantage when it comes to images. The company owns Picasa (), a second-tier photo-sharing site; the dominant Flickr is owned by rival Yahoo (). Where Google does have some weight, however, is in the browser arena. By focusing on the browser as the most important platform of our time, Google has seen Chrome () quickly become a contender in the browser wars. Even though Chrome is still edging toward a 10% share of the global browser market, it’s gaining users as Firefox falters, Internet Explorer takes a dive and Safari stagnates. Google has taken a leading role in developing a faster, better, more standards-compliant web browser for some time now, and it’s talking to other browser makers about WebP support, which would mean a faster browsing experience for everyone. Expect to see WebP-formatted images on Chrome within a few weeks. Also, just like WebM, WebP is an open-source format. We know Google has a long row to hoe before it reaps WebP’s rewards, but this dramatic reduction in file size and the potential for faster browsing seems like something all browser makers and device manufacturers would want to deliver to users. What do you think? Is it likely that WebP will ever become the standard that JPEG is today?