Apple has joined forces with a cast of high profile computer related companies to form the Internet Streaming Media Alliance. The new non-profit organization aims to establish a set of standards for developing and delivering streaming content over the Internet.
Also joining Apple are Cisco Systems, Kasenna, Royal Phillips Electronics, and Sun Microsystems; the usual suspects in any type of alliance against Microsoft. Also missing from the Alliance is the current leader of the streaming media market, Real Networks. While these are the initial members, the Alliance is open for membership, and the group hopes to attract other major players.
There are three main competing technologies for the streaming market right now, including Appleis QuickTime, Microsoftis Media Player, and Realis RealPlayer. Many believe that Real has the advantage due to their early start in the game, but Microsoft is able to leverage the Windows platform, and has been quickly gaining market share over the last two years. However, many also believe that Appleis QuickTime delivers the highest quality.
These competing formats often force content creators to choose one format, as developing for multiple formats can be cost prohibitive. The creation of a set of agreed upon standards would, in the long run, be good for both consumers and developers. Consumers would need to have only one type of "player" on their machines for full compatibility, and developers would know that their content would be viewable by literally every computer user out there.
Of course, such a standard, based around QuickTime technology, would greatly benefit Apple. Many feel that QuickTime is Appleis greatest asset, and the ability to leverage it as a "standard" would go a long way toward pushing QuickTime to the top of the streaming media pile.
The new Allianceis first task will be to announce a standard for MPEG-4 over IP, which the member of the group have reportedly been working on for months. The first formal meeting of the group, which was announced at todayis Streaming Media West conference, is expected to be sometime in February.
You can find more information about the new group at the Internet Media Streaming Alliance web site.