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RealNetworks licenses Apple's QuickTime

Steve Jobs does the maths: wider QuickTime use + RealNetworks recognition - M$ = more Mac sales

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RealNetworks yesterday said it has licensed Apple's rival QuickTime streaming technology,

A peculiar team-up, you might think, given the way Apple has been pushing QuickTime and its streaming media service, QuickTime TV, against RealNetworks rather than its other competitor, Microsoft.

But as Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at the announcement, there's "wisdom in this".

Apple's strategy with QuickTime has largely been about selling more Macs, primarily to maintain and extend its lead in the media content creation business. That's why its QuickTime marketing has often focused on what it calls RealNetworks' "server tax" - its server licensing fees.

However, Apple has enough of a handle on the real world to know that Real is very well established and no one's going to switch over to Mac-based server farms just because QuickTime Server - or at least its open source core - is free.

What Apple has done is raise the profile of QuickTime client software through some neat media deals - in particular, the Star Wars: Episode One, Lord of the Rings and other trailers - and used the open source component of the code to evangelise the format in the Linux and Unix arenas.

And it's given Apple a strong share of the streaming media market, making QuickTime a format that content providers have to note of. Which is where RealNetworks comes in. Unlike Apple, RealNetworks is more interested in the client side in its own right, rather than something to use to leverage sales elsewhere. That means becoming the de facto standard, which in turn means supporting the key media formats. That now includes QuickTime.

So the deal should give RealNetworks the opportunity to get QuickTime Players users to switch to RealPlayer, and Apple gets the recognition of the market leader and so a better shot at selling into content creation houses. QuickTime will be included in the upcoming RealServer 8, allowing many companies who couldn't or wouldn't serve QuickTime conent to do so. Again, that's a fillip for QuickTime - and what's good for QuickTime is (hopefully) good for Apple's sales.

And, of course, both get to stand together and pour scorn on Microsoft, which they did with gusto at the announcement. Kick a rival while it's down? Hell, why not? ®

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