This Story Posted:
January 14th
11:58 AM/CST


[11: 58 AM]
Apple To Charge "Per-Port" Licensing On FireWire
Apple Computer has apparently decided to make some money with FireWire, its data-transfer technology recently premiered on the new G3 systems. FireWire, in its current implementation, allows up to 400 Mbps (megabits per second) of throughput, is hot swappable (like USB), has its power supplied by the bus (like USB), and does not require termination or ID numbers (unlike SCSI). This combination makes it a very compelling way of connecting computers to all sorts of peripherals and it was all developed by Apple.

Apple currently has several large licensees in including Sony, Philips, IBM, Matsushita, and Texas Instruments who paid a one-time fee to use FireWire (or 1394 as it is also known). Apple is now wanting to charge future licensees US$1 per port on each device sold. This plan is meeting with some criticism from both the industry and some analysts. While the industry wants to be able use the technology at as cheap a price possible, analysts have suggested that charging a fee will slow the adoption rate of FireWire.

The Mac Observer Spin: Apple tried to do something similar with QuickTime 3 when they attempted to license the use of QuickTime to developers for US$1 per copy of the software using it. A howling protest resulted in Apple modifying its QuickTime fee structure to be more to the liking of developers. The difference between QuickTime and FireWire is that hardware is a larger part of the overall market than QuickTime is. While QuickTime is more of a standard every day, every computer has to have a hard drive while not every program needs to use QuickTime. FireWire is currently the single most compelling "new" technology for connecting peripherals to computers. While a smaller fee than US$1 per port may have been a smarter move as the higher fee will have more of an impact on smaller developers, Apple clearly has to make money on its technologies. Once this cost is considered to be a standard part of doing business instead of a big change, implementation of FireWire will continue apace and Apple will make some outstanding profits.