Multimedia video files can come in different formats, each possessing a level of popularity based on several specifications. Based on availability and usage, the most popular types of multimedia video formats are Audio Video Interleave (AVI) and Moving Pictures Expert Group (MPEG). Mobile devices and online streaming services often use Flash video (FLV), Windows Media™ Video (WMV), and the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GP). Other common multimedia video formats include QuickTime® Movie (MOV), Matroska (MKV), and RealMedia® (RM). DivX® and Ogg are also popular among users.
AVI was first developed in late 1992 as a means to allow both video and audio playback at the same time. Its file compression capabilities made it a popular choice among users who had limited space in their hard drives. Advances in both compression techniques and information-sharing technology allowed AVI to maintain its popularity for years, as the file format continues to be one of the most downloaded multimedia video formats. AVI videos bear the .avi file extension.
MPEG, on the other hand, was developed in 1993 and was used primarily to contain video and audio information for video compact discs (VCDs). The format's first version, MPEG-1, needed to downsize images in order to adhere to bitrate limitations, resulting in videos of relatively poorer quality than what was then available. Upgrades to the format allowed for high-definition, scalable resolutions and improved file compression. Audio data contained in MPEG files are usually compressed within the MPEG Audio Layer III (MP3) format, one of the most popular multimedia audio formats available. Commonly-used file extensions for MPEG multimedia video formats include .mpeg, .mpg, and .mp4.
Video sharing websites such as YouTube™ often use FLV and WMV as their multimedia video formats of choice. The formats allow for faster and smoother streaming of data over the Internet as compared to other formats, albeit with a loss of video quality. Upgrades to the technology allow users to opt for high-definition video, but streaming speeds become significantly slower as a result. File extensions include .flv and the more advanced .f4v for FLV, and .wmv for WMV.
3GP is most commonly seen in videos taken by 3rd-generation mobile telecommunication (3G) phones. The format, though poor in quality compared to other file types, boasts much smaller file sizes, making it an ideal format for the smaller disk space found in mobile phones. 3GP is usually shared through Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS) and storage device transfers, but is uploaded and downloaded over the Internet as well.