Apple focuses on Web playback

Summary:Targets broad audience with new Final Cut Pro video-editing software -- releases beta version of QuickTime 4.0.

Apple opened the door on a new world of more-affordable video production and high-quality Web playback with its release Monday of Final Cut Pro video-editing software and a beta version of QuickTime 4.0.

Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller called Final Cut "a breakthrough product" that "makes the power Digital Video available to a broad new audience of people."

With a price tag of $1,000, Schiller said Final Cut's editing, compositing and effects features produce professional results as good as that from high-end video-editing packages costing tens of thousands of dollars more.

Likewise, he said, new streaming capabilities in QuickTime 4 allow home users -- including those surfing the Web with 28.8-Kbps modems -- to hear real-time audio that's as good as the clearest radio broadcasts. And sometimes better.

'More affordable' results
"High end results are now more affordable," Schiller said.

Final Cut, he said, "fills the gap between entry-level video systems and high-end, $100,000 Avid [Technology Inc.] systems.'' Apple is targeting the product at creative agencies and colleges that can't afford high-end video suites, Schiller said, but it's also available to home hobbyists with a DV camera and a high-speed Power Mac G3 with FireWire capabilities -- "all together maybe a $5,000 setup that can produce professional results."

He predicted that Final Cut will do for video editing what Adobe PageMaker and QuarkXPress did for the once-exclusive fields of publication design and printing.

Schiller said Apple sees Final Cut as a unique product that won't compete directly with the Premiere editing system from Adobe Systems Inc., and he said Apple and Adobe maintain close ties. Final Cut and Premiere "are different products," he said, "and, if they do overlap in some areas, we can be adult about that."

Apple has no immediate plans to produce a less-expensive, lower-end version of Final Cut, Schiller said, "but we may turn our sights to that at some point."

QuickTime evolution
In the meantime, he said, the company is busy on a number of other fronts, not the least of which is QuickTime.

Schiller said Version 4.0 marks a significant step in QuickTime's evolution, bringing new streaming capabilities and new compressors-decompressors (codecs) to improve the overall quality of sound and images available on the Internet and in the thousands of software packages that use QuickTime for on-screen presentations.

QuickTime 3 made a name for itself with efficient "progressive downloading" of an Internet audio or video file stream, but Schiller said QuickTime 4 adds live streaming features that eliminate the need to download the file at all. With nothing saved on the user's hard drive, broadcast content comes faster than before and at high quality, he said.

QuickTime 4 is the first software package to adopt the industry-standard RTP and RTSP protocols for streaming content over the Internet, Schiller said, unlike similar products from Real Networks Inc. and Microsoft Corp. that use proprietary technology.

QuickTime 4's new Internet streaming capabilities allow users to play live and stored video and audio using a variety of new codecs that improve playback, including Sorenson Video, QDesign Music and MP3 codecs. QuickTime 4 also improves support for Macromedia Flash content.

Schiller said QuickTime performance is limited only by Internet bandwidth, with 28.8-Kbps modems capable of producing "radio-quality" audio. Users plugged into an ISDN line or cable modem, he said, will hear "CD-quality audio."

QuickTime video is "OK" with a 28.8 modem, he said, and similarly improves with faster Internet connections. "QuickTime isn't going to replace TV right now," Schiller said, "but it's better than anything else out there."

Apple has not set a date for shipping the final version of QuickTime 4. Schiller said the company is waiting for feedback from beta users and hopes to release the complete package by July's Macworld Expo in New York.

Apple opened the door on a new world of more-affordable video production and high-quality Web playback with its release Monday of Final Cut Pro video-editing software and a beta version of QuickTime 4.0.

Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller called Final Cut "a breakthrough product" that "makes the power Digital Video available to a broad new audience of people."

With a price tag of $1,000, Schiller said Final Cut's editing, compositing and effects features produce professional results as good as that from high-end video-editing packages costing tens of thousands of dollars more.

Likewise, he said, new streaming capabilities in QuickTime 4 allow home users -- including those surfing the Web with 28.8-Kbps modems -- to hear real-time audio that's as good as the clearest radio broadcasts. And sometimes better.

'More affordable' results
"High end results are now more affordable," Schiller said.

Final Cut, he said, "fills the gap between entry-level video systems and high-end, $100,000 Avid [Technology Inc.] systems.'' Apple is targeting the product at creative agencies and colleges that can't afford high-end video suites, Schiller said, but it's also available to home hobbyists with a DV camera and a high-speed Power Mac G3 with FireWire capabilities -- "all together maybe a $5,000 setup that can produce professional results."

He predicted that Final Cut will do for video editing what Adobe PageMaker and QuarkXPress did for the once-exclusive fields of publication design and printing.

Schiller said Apple sees Final Cut as a unique product that won't compete directly with the Premiere editing system from Adobe Systems Inc., and he said Apple and Adobe maintain close ties. Final Cut and Premiere "are different products," he said, "and, if they do overlap in some areas, we can be adult about that."

Apple has no immediate plans to produce a less-expensive, lower-end version of Final Cut, Schiller said, "but we may turn our sights to that at some point."

QuickTime evolution
In the meantime, he said, the company is busy on a number of other fronts, not the least of which is QuickTime.

Schiller said Version 4.0 marks a significant step in QuickTime's evolution, bringing new streaming capabilities and new compressors-decompressors (codecs) to improve the overall quality of sound and images available on the Internet and in the thousands of software packages that use QuickTime for on-screen presentations.

QuickTime 3 made a name for itself with efficient "progressive downloading" of an Internet audio or video file stream, but Schiller said QuickTime 4 adds live streaming features that eliminate the need to download the file at all. With nothing saved on the user's hard drive, broadcast content comes faster than before and at high quality, he said.

QuickTime 4 is the first software package to adopt the industry-standard RTP and RTSP protocols for streaming content over the Internet, Schiller said, unlike similar products from Real Networks Inc. and Microsoft Corp. that use proprietary technology.

QuickTime 4's new Internet streaming capabilities allow users to play live and stored video and audio using a variety of new codecs that improve playback, including Sorenson Video, QDesign Music and MP3 codecs. QuickTime 4 also improves support for Macromedia Flash content.

Schiller said QuickTime performance is limited only by Internet bandwidth, with 28.8-Kbps modems capable of producing "radio-quality" audio. Users plugged into an ISDN line or cable modem, he said, will hear "CD-quality audio."

QuickTime video is "OK" with a 28.8 modem, he said, and similarly improves with faster Internet connections. "QuickTime isn't going to replace TV right now," Schiller said, "but it's better than anything else out there."

Apple has not set a date for shipping the final version of QuickTime 4. Schiller said the company is waiting for feedback from beta users and hopes to release the complete package by July's Macworld Expo in New York.

Topics: Apple, Hardware

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