Apple’s relationship with the mainstream press has always been one of love-to-hate: on the one hand, Apple is the underdog to Microsoft’s homogeny, and a media darling, the company who creates stunningly-designed, easy-to-use computers. On the other, they’re an arrogant, marginalized, ready-to-fold business with a sub-five-percent marketshare, which cares more about form than function; and the press revels in painting Apple in a bad light.
So when Apple announced recently that they were ready to release the next generation of their QuickTime software, which would include MPEG-4 (along with other products based on the new version) and at the same time announced that they would delay shipping QuickTime until they could negotiate better user licenses from the MPEG group, it came as little surprise (but with great frustration) that the press headlined with “Apple delays next version of QuickTime”.
Well, what do you expect from an industry that for years must have though the company’s full name was “beleaguered Apple Computer”?
From the headlines (another example, from the L.A. Times: “Apple Set to Withhold Latest QuickTime”), you’d think there was a technical reason that forced them to delay the release, when in fact it’s because Apple is trying to do the right thing by its customers.
The issue at hand is MPEG-LA (the largest group of MPEG-4 patent holders) wants to charge both the companies making the software using MPEG-4 and the people creating and streaming content using MPEG-4. In other words, they’re double-dipping, wanting their cake and to eat it too….
Apple on the other hand, thinks content providers should be able to use MPEG-4 without paying additional royalties to stream their creations.
The sound you just heard was a massive, collective Duh! from the creative community.
Content providers have no problem paying for software to create their masterpieces, but will balk, rightly, at being asked to pony up two cents for every hour of paid video.
So here we have Apple taking a stance to protect an important part of their customer base (many of whom are media, by-the-way), and instead of being praised to the heavens for doing so, are made to look like incompents for “not getting their software out on time”.
The mainstream media has to start giving Apple some even, unbiased coverage for a change. In this case, a simple “Apple’s newest QuickTime software ready but delayed by licensing concerns” would have sufficed and gotten both important facts out.