Phil S.: Viva La Revolucion! (2/12/02)

Oh that wacky Phil Schiller; always fomenting uprising and rebellion! Actually, you know, we never really thought of him as the freedom fighter type; he looks a little more like the guy you'd eat nachos with while watching a golf instructional video. But it's obviously true what they say about not judging books by their affable and slightly puffy covers, because today Phil revealed that he's a firebrand at heart-- and all of you who tuned into the QuickTime Live keynote webcast know what we're talking about. (And no, it wasn't just Phil's oblique reference to Mike Dell telling people he invented wireless networking-- although we're sure that Steve's mighty proud of his protégé for squeezing in that little zinger.)

For those of you who shun any and all keynotes at which His Steveness is not presiding, allow us to fill you in: today Apple announced and demonstrated QuickTime 6, with complete support for the long-awaited MPEG-4 video standard. And Phil, together with our personal hero, comrade Frank "Shout at the Devil" Casanova (insert "hail Satan" heavy metal hand gesture here), demonstrated all sorts of incredible ways in which the fully scalable MPEG-4 standard can be used: live video broadcasts wirelessly via a PowerBook and AirPort; DV footage encoded and served to set-top boxes via a Sun server; even color MPEG-4 video streaming onto a mobile phone. This is nifty stuff--- but we can't have it yet.

Why? Well, it's not because of the technology lagging; Phil held up a CD-ROM and stated that QuickTime 6 is done and ready for release. Instead, Apple is holding back until the MPEG-4 licensing terms improve. Basically, it breaks down like this: under the terms of the current proposed license, developers (such as Apple) would pay a quarter for each MPEG-4 encoder shipped, up to a maximum of $1 million per year; the same goes for the decoder. That's $2 million a year in fees that Apple would have to cough up-- and Phil says he's just fine with that. What he's not happy about is that the license also taxes content providers with a royalty, meaning that Apple's customers would have to pay to use the technology... and that's something that deeply offends Mr. Schiller's sense of fair play.

Hence, the hardball tactics: Apple is "delaying" the release of QuickTime 6 until MPEG-LA (the folks who hold most of the MPEG-4 patents) revises its licensing terms to allow broadcasters to offer up MPEG-4 content royalty-free. And did Phirebrand Phil entreat his entire audience (both meatspace and virtual) to write to MPEG-LA in hopes of getting them to loosen up on the provider royalties? You bet he did-- heck, for convenience's sake, he even gave out the address where well-reasoned requests may be sent: If you're a content broadcaster who'd have to pony up some dough under the current terms, help Phil help you by expressing your displeasure to the patent holders. And hurry it up-- the rest of us want QuickTime 6 too, ya know.

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The above scene was taken from the 2/12/02 episode:

February 12, 2002: QuickTime 6 is here, sort of, but Phil Schiller is fighting for the rights of the working content provider. Meanwhile, Apple posts new iMac "ads" done up by the otherStevely Pixar, and a 10-Q filing finally puts a number on Apple's recent job cuts...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3563: Hook 'Em With Cuteness (2/12/02)   Speaking of QuickTime content, faithful viewer Sledgehammer Smythe was the first to point out that there are a couple of new additions to Apple's ads page-- or, at least, there were. From last night until this afternoon, there were two new iMac spots linked there, which have since mysteriously vanished...

  • 3564: Pink Slips, Sans Frenzy (2/12/02)   Heads up, people; it's 10-Q time again, which means that fans of overly-cautious, bordering-on-gloomy financial filings can pore over a ridiculously huge volume of stuff in hopes of extracting some relevant dirt about everyone's favorite Cupertino fruit market...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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