Editorial: Reach out and touch someone with QuickTime
By Peter Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org
An announcement from Apple a few days before Apple introduced the iMac G5 didn't get nearly the press exposure that the new all-in-one computer did, but in many ways it's just as significant -- perhaps moreso. Apple announced that Sprint has certified its Xserve G5 and QuickTime as mobile multimedia delivery platforms for Sprint's new PCS Vision Multimedia Service.
Delivering entertainment content to cell phones -- games, audio and video -- is already a big moneymaker for some companies and is expected to grow in leaps and bounds in the years to come as cell phones and services gain new features. Already this is a big market in the Pacific Rim and parts of Europe where "3G" smartphones have taken hold, and the US is slowly but surely following.
With the Xserve G5, which includes the necessary software to deliver a QuickTime media stream already installed with no special licensing requirements, Apple is selling an off-the-shelf, on-the-rack solution that lets companies large and small alike start delivering content to those customers straightaway. It's an appealing package that can deliver a quality experience to the end user, and what's more, it's scalable -- you can add more Xserves on as your service expands. As a result, Apple delivers an end to end media content experience: Everything from the machine that encodes the content (a Power Mac video editing workstation) to the content delivery (Xserve G5) to the playback system used by the end user (QuickTime).
Sure, there's some back end engineering and licensing that has to happen to make that data accessible to those phones, but a one-box solution is better than the quagmire of costs and support hassles associated with buying some heavy Intel-based iron and licensing Windows Server 2003, RealNetworks' Helix Server or other products to do the same.
Microsoft fully recognizes this potential and if a recent Reuters article is any indication, isn't content to just lie down and let other companies grab control of the market. Already they've been making behind the scenes deals with companies like Motorola and NEC to make sure that new phones use Windows Media Player to deliver this content.
But Apple isn't sitting on the sidelines here, either. In July the company announced plans to develop a version of iTunes that works with new Motorola cell phones that will appear next year. And Apple is quick to point out that MSN Music has a long way to go before it catches up with iTunes' dominant market position.
Between development deals with companies like Motorola, certification of its hardware and software by companies like Sprint, and the continued development of technologies and services that people like and want to use like QuickTime and the iTunes Music Store, Apple is proving that it can compete in a number of different markets simultaneously, adding value and potential growth opportunities to its own core product line in the process.
BusinessWeek, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, announced the results of its survey of the most innovative companies, leaders and inventions since 1929. The company surveyed 500 senior-level business executives, allowing them more than one choice per category, and found that Apple Computer Inc. was named by 35 percent of them as the most innovative company, followed closely by Microsoft at 32 percent and Pixar at 31 percent.
Apple on Tuesday released Security Update 2004-09-07 delivering a number of security enhancements. The update, which is recommended for all users, updates the CoreFoundation; IPSec; Kerberos; libpcap; lukemftpd; NetworkConfig; OpenLDAP; OpenSSH; PPPDialer; rsync; Safari; and tcpdump. The update is available via the Software Update control panel; more information is available from Apple's Web site.
Sony Corp. will begin selling its first high-definition video camcorder in Japan on Oct. 15, and worldwide by the end of the year, the company said in an announcement Tuesday. While the camcorder is compatible with Japan's HDV high-definition digital video format, users cannot store video on Sony's Blu-ray Disc format.
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Telestream on Friday introduced Flip4Mac -- digital media tools that enable Mac OS X users to import and export files in Windows Media format. The software works from within any QuickTime-based application, supporting QuickTime Player, iMovie, Final Cut Pro and others. A "standard" version will allow standard-definition export, while a pro HD version adds high-definition output support and 5.1 channel audio. Both versions are expected to be released in the fourth calendar quarter of 2004, starting at under US$100.
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After undergoing surgery in late July for a rare form of pancreatic cancer, Apple Computer Chief Executive Steve Jobs is on the road to recovery and plans to return to full-time work later this month.
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