http://twitter.com/#!/vidio/status/131350274378964992

Joshua Topolsky and the others that fled Engadget launched their new site today, The Verge. I found one of the groups Topolsky thanked in his announcement post particularly interesting:

vid.io The product that powers our video. These guys are about to change the game with their technology, and we are so happy to be early adopters.

I had never heard of vid.io before. Visiting the site reveals nothing but a sign up box for future updates. Who is behind vid.io? What makes them different from the other players? And how did they get Topolsky and the team at The Verge on board?

Unsurprisingly, there are some heavy hitters involved. Vid.io was founded by one of the co-founders of Viddler, Rob Sandie. Sandie served as Viddler’s president for six years until he was forced out in July of this year. Seems like he got back on his feet pretty quickly. As to the size and makeup of the rest of the team, that’s still a mystery to me at this point.

What makes vid.io special? According to their Twitter account, it’s HTML5, kryptonite, and unicorn tears. I’m guessing two of those are to throw us off the trail.

Indeed, it appears that one of the key features of the video player is that it defaults to HTML5. Even if Flash is installed vid.io videos do not use Flash if HTML5 will work. This is in contrast to most of the major players in video (such as Vimeo, Brightcove, and even Viddler) that default to Flash and fallback to HTML5. It’s a welcome shift, too – with other video platforms it can be frustrating to know that an HTML5 version exists (because a video is viewable on iOS devices), yet Flash is required when viewing from a desktop browser.

The choice to favor HTML5 may be the key selling point. In that same “unicorn tears” tweet, the vid.io team writes, “Yep, we just killed Flash.”

Topolsky is clearly a forward-thinking guy, so it’s no surprise that he would like a video player that looks to the future – HTML5 – rather than the past. And by working with a video platform that was just starting they probably got to influence the product more than they could have with the other video platforms. According to the Twitter support account for The Verge, the video player on the site is “a custom project in conjunction with our friends over at vid.io”.

I think there is a lot of room for disruption in the online video space, so I’m excited to see where vid.io goes. They are certainly off to a strong start.