In coming weeks, Apple will introduce a new version of its multimedia delivery system, QuickTime 6, with support for 3GPP, or 3rd Generation Partnership Project--telecommunications standards for mobile systems. 3GPP is built on the MPEG-4 standard for the delivery of digital audio and video to PCs, set-top boxes and wireless devices.
Apple's coming software dovetails with new 3GPP-compatible wireless technology from Tokyo-based NTT DoCoMo, one of the world's largest mobile phone operators. On Monday, the wireless carrier, which has about 44 million subscribers, said it will introduce three new 3G (third-generation) mobile phones in the next several weeks that will allow people to view video clips wirelessly, as well as e-mail the video files to a PC, among other new features.
With its 3GPP-compatible QuickTime release, Apple opens the possibility for cell phone users to create videos using its content creation tools, including Final Cut Pro, and view them on NTT DoCoMo's next-generation phones. People will also be able to use DoCoMo's phones to capture videos, e-mail them to the PC and view them with QuickTime.
The announcements mark Apple's entree into digital media delivery for mobile phones and further promotes MPEG-4, an emerging standard for digital media distribution that is starting to catch on with various device makers. Apple, with its QuickTime software, has placed its bets on MPEG-4, whereas rivals such as Microsoft have focused on promoting proprietary formats for digital media distribution. In competition with Microsoft's Windows Media and RealNetworks, Apple has lagged in promoting its platform on the PC.
"The real story is that Apple is building a presence in the device market with QuickTime," said Ryan Jones, an analyst with research firm The Yankee Group. "These are two big announcements for Apple."
As part of NTT DoCoMo's announcement, the company endorsed QuickTime as the preferred content-creation platform for its new i-motion MP4 service and handsets, which is the underlying technology for viewing and e-mailing commercial video wirelessly. Apple said this means that thousands of DoCoMo-authorized i-motion professional content providers will use QuickTime to encode 3GPP content for delivery to DoCoMo's new-generation cell phones.
"Apple has stood behind the MPEG-4 standard, and we're expanding out to a whole new platform, going from the PC to the phone system," said Brian Croll, senior director of Mac OS product marketing. "This is exciting for us because the number of people using this standard is going to explode from people using this phone."