[opendtv] News: iTunes, iPod really about Quicktime

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2004 09:17:37 -0500


iTunes, iPod really about Quicktime

Readers Apple's tactics in music have strengthened the position of 
the Quicktime media platform in the realm of media consumption. This 
could be parlayed into a dominant position in video consumption.

A bit of history. Apple was quick out of the gates with Quicktime in 
the first half of the 90's, and established many of the user 
interface and software conventions related to time-based media, 
including the ability to cut, paste and manipulate video on consumer 
hardware and in normal applications, such as word processors and 

Quicktime has been widely adopted in the content creation industries, 
and has also been standardized as the core of the MPEG file format in 

Microsoft has positioned its proprietary Windows Media format as less 
costly and thus more attractive than the standard proposed by the 
industry itself.

This is partly true because of wrangling over licensing fees for some 
of the proprietary codecs involved in the MPEG standard.

Apple has vociferously advocated for viable licensing terms with the 
license holders.

In a familar pattern, Microsoft seems to be acting as though there 
were no relevant industry standard, and that its client monopoly on 
the PC establishes Windows Media, de-facto, as the standard. That's 
fine as long as the PC is the key to the media distribution ecosystem.

With the iPod and iTunes, Apple has opened an explosive channel for 
establishing its standards compliant media platform on top of the 
Windows PC client operating system.

Apple has also bought some software, called FairPlay, from a company 
called VeriDisc, that protects copyrighted material from unauthorized 
copying, thus encouraging content owners to get involved on a massive 

This move has also clearly placated these same owners' concerns about 
another very relevant fact: iTunes and the iPod leverage by far the 
most common means of music distribution. These are, of course, CDs 
and illegal downloads.

Steve Ballmer has said, referring to music, that Apple's market share 
is so small that it "can never reach critical mass." iTunes music 
store aside, even if every iPod owner only got music onto their iPod 
from CDs they bought at a store, they would also in the process put a 
full copy of the Quicktime media platform on a computer somewhere.

Apple's PC market share is irrelevant.

In fact, it's a safe bet that the majority of computers in question 
run Windows. And under the iTunes deal, every HP consumer PC will 
have Quicktime installed even if no iPod comes with it. Apple's 
market share in music looks like it's already reached critical mass. 
The dark force to be reckoned with here may be Quicktime.

Here is an article from CNET suggesting that iTunes opens the way for 
standards in streaming:


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