Will Microsoft eclipse QuickTime with Windows Media Player? Columnist Charles Haddad calls Windows Media player a QT “knock-off.” In his “Byte of the Apple” column at Business Week Online, he says “no.”
Haddad said that while Apple and Microsoft “were duking it out, trying to establish each of their respective media players as the standard in the emerging CD-ROM market, a new rival, Rob Glaser, crept up behind them.” Glaser is, of course, with RealNetworks, whose Real Player now boasts 26 million users, ahead of both Microsoft’s and Apple’s products.
However, Haddad thinks that QuickTime will make a comeback with Apple’s new focus on digital video, an area in which neither RealNetworks nor Microsoft dominate. He added that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is repositioning QuickTime.
“You see, QuickTime is the digital equivalent of a Walkman,” Haddad said. “The big difference is that it can play more than 50 different types of media, including audio, video, streaming video, and stuff such as Flash animations. What the user sees is a simple metaphor of a small television with control buttons. It’s easy to use and easy for Apple to upgrade, adding new types of media as they’re developed.”
Real Player and Windows Media Player do many of the same things. But where QuickTime excels is in its ability to not only play media but create it, Haddad noted.
“All this functionality hasn’t stemmed the slide in QuickTime’s usage,” he said. “In part, Apple is to blame for missing the rise of the Internet — as Microsoft did initially, too — in the mid-1990s. But there also was little Apple could do once Microsoft began free distribution of Windows Media Player. Wisely, Jobs has chosen not to fight a losing battle with Gates. He knows that most new computing devices, such as camcorders, digital cameras, and handheld computers are machines not dominated by Windows, which leaves an opening for Apple.”
As Apple announced at last week’s National Association of Broadcaster convention 75 different models of digital cameras, both still and video, now incorporate QuickTime as the software to capture, transfer, and edit video. Signing up much of the digital-camera market is a coup for Apple, Haddad said. He added that Jobs “outfoxed” Gates and Glaser.
“He has discovered a back entrance to potentially tens of millions of PCs running on Windows,” Haddad said. ” If PC users embrace QuickTime, it will become the standard for video editing. And within the next five years, video editing is likely to become as common a use of home computers as writing a school paper.”
Also announced at NAB was the release of QuickTime 5.0.1, a major new upgrade. New features in QuickTime 5 include Cubic VR, which enables users to view 360 degree environments; “Media skins,” or custom interface elements; MPEG-1 support; an enhanced DV codec; integrated support for Macromedia’s Flash 4; enhanced AppleScript support; a new music synthesizer with support for DLS files and SoundFonts; and more.