After releasing a public preview, Apple today announced
QuickTime 6, the latest version of their popular digital media technology.
“Our Public Preview for QuickTime 6 was very successful,” Frank Casanova, Apple’s director of QuickTime product marketing, told MacCentral. “We had over 1 million downloads for QuickTime 6 Public Preview — it’s a great way for users to give us feedback on the product.”
Apple first previewed QuickTime 6 during Phil Schiller’s QuickTime Live keynote in February. It was at the QuickTime conference that Mac users first learned of the licensing dispute with MPEG LA, the licensing body responsible for MPEG-4.
The problem was not with the amount that Apple would have to pay, totaling approximately US$2 million, but the amount of proposed content royalties MPEG LA wanted to charge providers.
MPEG LA proposed a $0.02 per hour, per stream charge for providers of the QuickTime stream — if they are remunerated — in addition to the money they receive from Apple and other companies paying the codec royalties.
MPEG LA has reached an agreement with companies like Apple that want to use the MPEG-4 standard. “They have made a lot of progress from where they were,” Casanova said.
There will be thresholds in place for people that stream MPEG-4 content; most people that stream QuickTime content now will continue to do so at no cost.
“There are limitations, thresholds and more options for people to pay for the use of MPEG-4,” Larry Horn, vice president of licensing for MPEG LA, told MacCentral.
The news that many streaming QuickTime providers have been waiting for is the thresholds that MPEG LA would allow. If your business has 50,000 subscribers or less, you do not have to pay MPEG LA any money for licensing fees. Once you reach 50,001 your company will have to start paying fees to the organization, but the first 50,000 remain free.
MPEG LA has capped the amount streaming content providers will have to pay at $1 million. Content providers have three options available to them to pay for the MPEG-4 license: a flat fee of $1 million for companies that know they will reach the cap in a year; $0.25 per user, per year after the threshold has been reached; or $0.02 per hour, per stream after the threshold has been reached. The latter two also have a $1million cap and the first 50,000 subscribers remain free.
With the release of QuickTime 6 today, Apple didn’t rule out the possibility that Wednesday’s Macworld keynote would be streamed in MPEG-4. If you don’t have QuickTime 6 on your computer, the stream will still work — in a non MPEG-4 format — with QuickTime 5.
QuickTime 6 features a file format that is used as the foundation of MPEG-4, a streaming media technology that delivers higher quality content with more conservation of bandwidth.
The software also features AAC Audio, the “new standard in professional audio,” according to Apple. The codec used by QuickTime for AAC utilizes signal processing technology developed by Dolby Labs, and brings variable bit rate encoding to QuickTime as well.
QuickTime 6 also sports skip protection for streaming media, an updated user interface, a new DVC Pro PAL video codec, support for Macromedia Flash 5, a new JPEG 2000 still image code for Mac OS X, enhanced AppleScript support, and many new developer APIs. To learn more about the technology or to download it now, visit the link above.
“MPEG-4 is poised to take off,” said Casanova.
Representatives from MPEG LA were not available for comment on this story.