Lots of folks were predicting that Apple would release QuickTime 5.1 today at the
QuickTime Live! Conference
in Beverly Hills, CA. They were wrong. Apple went straight to QuickTime 6 that features full support for MPEG-4, the emerging standard for streaming high quality content to computers and other digital devices.
Apple previewed the new version today, but hasn’t released it yet. They say that QuickTime 6 is finished and ready to go, but that they’re waiting for MPEG-4 video licensing terms to be improved before it officially goes out the door. The MPEG-4 licensing terms proposed by MPEG-LA (the largest group of MPEG-4 patent holders) includes royalty payments from companies, like Apple, who ship MPEG-4 codecs, as well as royalties from content providers who use MPEG-4 to stream video.
In a statement announcing QT 6, Apple said they agree “with paying a reasonable royalty for including MPEG-4 codecs in QuickTime, but [do] not believe that MPEG-4 can be successful in the marketplace if content owners must also pay royalties in order to deliver their content using MPEG-4.” Still, in his QT Live keynote, Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing, called MPEG-4 “the best format for streaming media on the Web.”
“QuickTime 6 is the first complete MPEG-4 solution,” he said. “MPEG-4 is poised for great success once the licensing terms are modified to allow content providers to stream their content royalty-free.”
QuickTime 6 also provides a fully scalable, ISO compliant MPEG-4 solution for streaming media to the widest range of devices, according to Schiller. Version 6 of the multimedia software comes with an Apple-developed video codec for encoding and decoding MPEG-4 video content; support for Advanced Audio Coding (AAC), (“the next generation audio format,” according to Apple); support for CELP, the MPEG-4 speech codec for reproduction of natural speech; adherence to the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA, of which Apple is a member) 1.0 specification; MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 playback; Flash 5 support; and DVC Pro (PAL) support.
QT 6 also boasts an updated user interface that includes a new “Favorites” interface that Apple says is easier to use and which offers more convenient access to QuickTime content. The new version also offers skip protection enhancements.
Last week Apple announced QuickTime Player added 80 million new users last year, exceeding RealNetworks’ addition of 75 million new RealOne and RealPlayer users combined.