“This clearly signals to us the industries demand for a media architecture based on standards,” Frank Casanova, Apple’s director of QuickTime product marketing, told MacCentral. “We’ve delivered a huge number of ISO-compliant, standards-based, end-to-end streaming architectures that are free.”
Currently, the QuickTime team at Apple is offering QuickTime Streaming Server, a free streaming server that will run on Mac, Windows, Linux and Solaris; QuickTime Player, available as a free download and can be upgraded to the Pro version for US$30; and QuickTime Broadcaster, the company’s live encoding software, which is available for Mac OS X.
“QuickTime 6 has taken off like a rocket, with over 25 million downloads in 100 days,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing.
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.
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The problem was not with the amount that Apple would have to pay, totaling approximately $2 million, but the amount of proposed content royalties MPEG LA wanted to charge providers.
In mid-July the two sides reached an agreement, which allowed Apple to release the software to the public.
“There are limitations, thresholds and more options for people to pay for the use of MPEG-4,” said Larry Horn, vice president of licensing for MPEG LA, at the time the agreement was reached.
Apple says its standards-based approach to streaming media is what users want and what the industry wants. With MPEG-4 support in QuickTime, Apple is leading the pack; Real Networks last December said it would include support for MPEG-4 content in future versions of its media player. Theoretically, with MPEG-4, content authored in QuickTime could be dropped on Real’s application and it would recognize and play the content. The lone holdout at this point is Microsoft, which recently demoed its Windows Media Player 9 technology.
“Microsoft has said nothing about MPEG-4 and has continued to exhibit anti-standards behavior by pushing Windows Media 9, which has nothing to do with the standard,” said Casanova. “It’s too bad, because I think the industry would have rejoiced if Microsoft, like RealNetworks, had followed our lead and adopted MPEG-4 as the core of their architecture.”