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AT&T to integrate a2b digital music format into QuickTime

Hitches lift with Apple open source programme

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AT&T today nailed its colours to Apple's mast by committing itself to supporting its a2b digital music format within QuickTime 4. The company said it will offer a plug-in for Apple's extensible multimedia technology that would allow QuickTime Player for Windows and Mac to play back music tracks encoded into the a2b format. And about time. The a2b format has rather lost itself in the MP3 vs. the music industry debate and the subsequent formation of the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI). While the SDMI isn't going to choose a specific format -- it seems to want a copyright protection mechansim in which framework multiple formats can exist -- a2b needs to get out there and promote its technology against the likes of Liquid Audio and Microsoft's Windows Media Technologies (WMT). Hence the deal with Apple, which is essentially hitching a lift on someone else's wagon. Apple's strategy with QuickTime 4 is to build support for the format by making it easy for Web sites to use it. Hence its open source (ish) licensing programme. AT&T's move should bring it the benefits from that plan. a2b doesn't appear to be going open source itself, but by aligning itself with QuickTime (which, in part at least is open source) it hopes to gain acceptance with all the anti-Microsoft croud alongside QuickTime. ®

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