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Apple buys Macromedia tools

The Mac maker acquires multimedia technology from Macromedia for use in future versions of QuickTime software.

Apple Computer announced today it acquired technology from Macromedia for use in future versions of its popular QuickTime multimedia playback and authoring software.

The acquisition is part of Apple's efforts to bolster QuickTime's capabilities in digital video authoring, as well as playback over the Internet and on personal computers, the company said.

The computer maker declined to detail what technology it acquired or the terms of the deal. The company did say that an unspecified number of Macromedia engineers would join Apple in support of its QuickTime efforts.

Apple just released the newest version of the playback and authoring software in March. QuickTime 3.0 is the first version to permit multimedia content creation on Windows computers.

QuickTime 3 mainly is used for viewing content. QuickTime 3 Pro, intended for use by content developers, is differentiated by authoring features such as cutting and pasting of digital video and audio clips and readying content for Webcasting. Unlike Quicktime, it is not freeware.

Recently, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a major standards-setting body, said it is looking at using QuickTime's file system as the basis for the MPEG-4 software technology.

MPEG-4 is an emerging digital media standard now being defined by ISO's Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) that will allow users to view and manipulate audio, video, and other forms of digital content. MPEG-2 is the current standard for playback of full-motion video for DVD (digital versatile disc) and other media.

By using the QuickTime file format as the starting point for an MPEG-4 standard, all digital media content can be authored in a common file format that also supports real-time video and audio streaming. This digital stream can then be delivered over the Internet and corporate networks or broadcast directly into the home, Apple said.