Could a new media empire be brewing in Cupertino? At the recent Macworld Expo in New York, Apple announced QuickTime TV (QTV), a network that delivers live video and audio over the Internet. An extension of the streaming-video capabilities in QuickTime 4, QTV lets you tune into content from ABC News, Disney, BBC World, ESPN, HBO, and other well-known media outlets. Some content providers, such as HBO, are providing previews of movies and other attractions available through their premium services. Others, such as Fox News, provide live feeds of their cable broadcasts.
Mac and Windows users can access QTV channels by using the Favorites feature in the new QuickTime Player. For example, clicking on the BBC channel in the Favorites drawer brings up a BBC newscast.
Along with Apple’s QuickTime software, the network also uses content-delivery technology from a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company called Akamai, which maintains a global network of high-speed Web servers. By distributing audio and video streams through the Akamai network, Apple says it can dramatically speed the delivery of QTV content.
So is Apple following Microsoft’s footsteps and getting into the media business? Not exactly, says Apple Product Marketing VP Phil Schiller. Apple’s goal, he says, is not to launch a new business venture but to promote QuickTime’s streaming-video capabilities.
He also makes it clear that QTV won’t compete with the broadcast and cable networks; after all, even the best-looking Web video can’t match the quality and frame rate of broadcast video. However, thanks to QuickTime’s scalability, he says, it will be easy for content providers to improve video quality as Internet bandwidth increases. With QuickTime 3, Apple introduced the ability to stream QuickTime movies at different data rates, depending on the speed of the user’s Internet connection.