updated 10:05 am EDT, Wed June 23, 2004
New QuickTime codec
Apple today announced that the DVD Forum has ratified the H.264 Advanced Video Codec (AVC) to be included in the next generation High Definition (HD) DVD format. The H.264/AVC codec was jointly developed by the Moving Picture Experts Group (MPEG) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and has been ratified into the MPEG-4 specification as the next-generation video codec. H.264/AVC is based on open-standards and will ship in Apple's software in an upcoming release next year.
"Apple is firmly behind H.264 because it delivers superb quality digital video and is based on open standards that no single company controls," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing. "QuickTime 6 has already topped 250 million downloads, making it one of the most successful media standards ever, and we will be adding support for H.264 to QuickTime next year."
Apple says that H.264/AVC is an extremely scalable video codec, delivering excellent quality across the entire bandwidth spectrum--from high definition television to video conferencing and 3G mobile multimedia. As shown in a preview at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in April, video encoded at full high definition resolution (1920x1080 24p) was played back between 6.8MPbs and 8Mbps on a dual-processor Power Mac G5 delivering full HD quality at up to half the data rate of MPEG-2.
According to Frost & Sullivan's 2004 Global Media Streaming Platform Report, between 2002 and 2003 Microsoft's and Real Networks' worldwide market share percentages were either stable or declining while QuickTime's market share increased to 36.8 percent, a close second to Microsoft. Real Networks came in third place with less than 25 percent of the worldwide streaming market share. QuickTime 6.5, which also includes enhanced support for 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and 3GPP2 mobile networks, is available as a free download.
Earlier this month, Apple announced that more than 250 million copies of QuickTime 6 have been downloaded in less than two years since its release.