DoCoMo adpots mp4 for 3G streaming!

in General Discussion edited January 2014
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[quote]Apple Strikes Major Blow in Streaming Media Market; Lands QuickTime Deal With Japan's DoCoMo

Japan's leading cell phone carrier NTT DoCoMo, generally recognized as the most technologically innovative of all the world's wireless telephone providers, has picked Apple's QuickTime 6 to be its audio and video platform for future mobile phones. To implement QuickTime 6 on cell phones, Apple will introduce a modified version of the stuff this year that supports the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standard. 3GPP is based on the open MPEG-4 standard for encoding, decoding and transmitting digital video and audio to PCs, cell phones, set-top boxes and other wired and wireless Internet-connected devices. Besides being known for pushing the tech envelope, DoCoMo has 44 million subscribers in Japan making it one of the world's largest cell phone service providers.

The Importance of DoCoMo's Decision

The importance of Apple's win cannot be overestimated considering the enormous size of the cell phone market, the desire for compatibility that content providers will want when they develop videos to deliver on both PCs and cell phones, the impact that DoCoMo's backing of an open standard will have on the world's cell phone makers and service providers and the resulting influence the decision will have in the PC streaming market. DoCoMo is not just saying MPEG-4 is good, it's betting its 3G future on it.

Apple's Exquisite Timing

Apple's 3GPP implementation comes at an opportune time as DoCoMo will begin delivering three new 3GPP-compliant 3G cell phones in a few weeks. All three phones will let users view video clips. Content developers such as news and sports services plus developers of movie trailers and music video teasers will be able to create videos using Apple's Final Cut Pro product that can be viewed on DoCoMo's cell phones.

Every Cell Phone a Video Camera

The three new phones will also have camera lenses so users can record videos up to 15 seconds long and then e-mail the video files to a PC or another cell phone user.

QuickTime with 3GPP

The modified QuickTime 6 that supports 3GPP, as yet unnamed, will output both the current .mov format as well as the new slightly different .3gp file format. Thousands of content providers will no doubt buy Apple's software to develop and encode their content for delivery to DoCoMo's new cell phones. Several hundred Japanese content developers have been using a pre-released version of the 3GPP QuickTime to develop video products to deliver to the new phones when DoCoMo subscribers start getting them by the end of the month. Apple is careful to emphasize that the 3GPP-compliant QuickTime is not a splinter or "forked" product. The 3GPP code will be integrated into the QuickTime core.

DoCoMo Endorsement Sends Aftershocks `Round the World

DoCoMo's QuickTime endorsement will influence other cell phone service providers as well as cell phone makers everywhere when the time comes for them to select their preferred video and audio file formats. DoCoMo's technology moves are carefully watched by the other cell phone companies because of its reputation as a profit-producing innovator.

Apple Is First with 3GPP Compliance

Apple is the first adherent of the relatively new 3GPP standard. DoCoMo will become the first service provider to implement it.

"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, Apple's 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."

The Big Picture of the Streaming Media Market

MPEG-4 is based on Apple's QuickTime. QuickTime is the base file format that MPEG-4 is built on. Apple has been preparing QuickTime 6 to compete with the two entrenched providers of proprietary multimedia products, Microsoft and RealNetworks. Apple however has suffered two recent losses. Despite its Hollywood connections, neither Internet movie service Movielink nor Starz Group that launched in the last few weeks picked QuickTime probably because it lacks adequate Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. Movielink selected both Microsoft and RealNetworks products. Starz selected RealNetworks. Apple says it intends to fill the product's DRM void with an elegantly executed solution - but doesn't say when.

Apple's decision to be MPEG-4-compliant gives it the strength of an industry standard backed by the 130 companies that joined the Internet Streaming Alliance that defines the implementation agreement for streaming MPEG-4 video and audio over IP networks. The Internet Streaming Media Alliance is a non-profit corporation formed to create the specs that define an interoperable implementation for streaming rich media (video, audio and associated data) over Internet Protocol (IP) networks.

Members include Apple Computer, Cisco, IBM, Philips Electronics, Sun, AOL, Dolby Laboratories, Envivio, France Telecom, Fraunhofer Institute, Hitachi, Network Appliance, Oki, Panasonic, Sharp Labs, Sigma Designs, Sony, Telecom Italia Lab, Thomson Multimedia, Volera and iVast. Absent are Microsoft and RealNetworks.

Microsoft versus the Rest of the World

Apple feels it has put Microsoft in a defensive position where it's "Microsoft versus the rest of the world" given the number of companies that have endorsed the MPEG-4 standard. Conceding that in this war each side probably has equal financial assets (Microsoft has over $40 billion in cash), Apple acknowledges that Microsoft's Windows Media 9 is an incredible technology but claims that it stands on feet of clay because of its closed, proprietary, Microsoft-controlled architecture. Microsoft is trying to move companies off of MPEG-2 before they can adopt MPEG-4 but Apple believes it has "an industry worth of momentum" behind QuickTime. Calling Microsoft and RealNetworks products "house brands," Apple and the MPEG-4 contingent swear that there's not room for three streaming media formats in the market, on PC desktops and certainly not in small mobile devices like cell phones. They forecast that most cell phones makers and providers will select MPEG-4 for their multimedia functions.

Pressure for an Industry Standard

The pressure may be getting to Real already. It's believed it will implement native MPEG-4 in its next release of the RealOne player codec. RealNetworks understands the importance of the cell phone market. It preened last summer about the deal for its stuff to be the multimedia software in a number of Nokia cell phones. Its stunning decision last summer to open source a lot of its software speaks to the importance mobile device developers put on being able to control what that they embed in their products.

Real has announced its Helix Mobile Producer and says it will work with Envivo on an encoder that will output 3GPP, 3GPP2, RealAudio and RealVideo. It has live and on-demand encoding and supports MPEG-4, AAC, N-AMR and H.263.

Cell Phones/Mobile Devices Will Force the PC Market To Follow

The MPEG-4 crowd thinks the cell phone industry will drive the acceptance of MPEG-4 in the computer world. And, when it comes to products like mobile devices where the software has to be permanently embedded in the hardware, they think they have an insurmountable lead. They point out that at trade shows like the Cellular Telecommunication and Internet Association (CTIA) and the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) the halls are decked with MPEG-4 products, not RealNetworks' or Microsoft's.

"No Microsoft-Only Devices"

Coding Technologies' VP and US general manager David Frerichs says, "There are some devices out there that support Windows Media but there are a lot of devices that are MPEG-only, and no devices that are Microsoft-only." He says that despite Microsoft's desire for dominance, device makers want open standards, because once the product ships, upgrading a compression codec is impossible. "In the computer world, it's fairly easy to have a closed standard because you can just download and install the new codec. In the embedded world, that's impossible."

MPEG-4 Competitors in the mobile phone market.

MPEG-4 doesn't have a clear run at its goal of dominating the cell phone market. Here is a list of its main competitors.

- Japan's Office Noa's Nancy product is used in the Sharp Zaurus PDA and by cell service J-Phone for its Video Sha-Mail video e-mail. The Nancy codec is real-time video compression/decompression (codec) software that can be used to provide full-color video at up to 30 frames per second. It reportedly requires substantially less processing power than MPEG-4. In September, China Mobile, China's largest mobile phone service, said it would offer videos to its subscribers over its existing GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)/GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) network using the Nancy codec. China Mobile and second-place China Union together have 176 million subscribers - and that's a market penetration of only 13%!

- Pulsent is a US company that claims its product reduces errors and required bandwidth. In April Pulsent emerged from four years of R&D secrecy with a radical approach to video compression that breaks video frames into a collection of objects that can be moved, stretched and rotated. Pulsent CEO Adityo Prakash claims compression schemes like MPEG-2, MPEG-4, Divx Networks' Divx codec, Microsoft's Windows Media and RealNetworks' RealOne all cling to a 20-year-old compression approach that tries to "squeeze every last bit of performance." (See TOR 291-02 Pulsent Says MPEG is Totally Square.)

- Essential Viewing is a Scottish company whose product is used by the European mobile company Orange in its HSCSD videophone. Oplayo and Soprano Communications use it in their streaming content portal. <a href=""; target="_blank"></a>

- Microsoft has done deals with PacketVideo and Emblaze to integrate Windows Media technology into their players. That means Microsoft's media player can be used on operating systems other than Microsoft's.

- RealNetworks went so far as to open source much of its software in order to attract cell phone companies. It's best known announced deal is the one it made last summer with Nokia.

Why DoCoMo's Selection of QuickTime Is So Important

- The enormous size of the world cell phone market.

- Content developers' desire for a single standard.

- DoCoMo's worldwide reputation as an innovator.

- DoCoMo's endorsement of an open standard.

- The impact the decision will ultimately have on the PC streaming media market.

MPEG-4 Summary Briefing

· MPEG-4 follows MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 as an industry standard, open implementation of a format for compressing (encoding), storing, transmitting and playing (decoding) video and audio (multimedia) files.

· The Moving Picture Experts Group, a part of the International Standards Organization (ISO), defined the three MPEG standards.

· MPEG-4 is primarily based on Apple's QuickTime technology.

· MPEG-4 has "extensibility" - the ability to combine various media such as audio, video, 3D objects, stills, sprites and text plus scalability, the ability to transmit media at any bit rate.

· MPEG-LA is an outfit that licenses MPEG technology. Many companies own the patents to the various MPEG technologies. MPEG-LA, located in Denver, is the licensing administrator (LA) and collects and distributes the royalties to the patent holders.

· For audio, MPEG-4 uses Advanced Audio Coding (AAC). It's a super-charger version of MP3 but with better compression resulting in a smaller file with better fidelity.

What Is 3G?

3G (third-generation) cell phone service is the newest wireless technology that promises to deliver music and short videos on cell phones. It transmits data 40 times faster than the 2G service.

First launched by NTT DoCoMo in Japan in 2001, it's only now starting to be delivered in Europe. A second Japanese firm, KDDI, launched a 3G service in April and a third, J-Phone, controlled by the British cell giant Vodafone, is scheduled to start 3G service on December 20. Sprint, Cingular, Verizon and AT&T began delivering 3G phones in the states this summer. "It's not the best time to launch a new business," said Alan Reiter, president of market research and consulting firm Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing Consulting. "People will say, `The hell with this. You have to pay this much for this content?"'

The uptake in Japan, generally considered to have the most rabid cell phone consumers - it's reputed the average high-school student purchases two cell phones a year - has been slow. Through November, DoCoMo had attracted only 149,000 3G subscribers and has reduced its prediction of 1.38 million subscriptions by March to 320,000.



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