RealTime IT News

Sprint Picks Apple for Content

Sprint and Apple have announced a partnership designed to get content providers to connect to PCS Vision subscribers via QuickTime.

As part of Sprint's new PCS Vision Multimedia Services launch, the Overland Park, Kansas-based company said it has certified Apple's Xserve G5 and QuickTime software as its preferred mobile multimedia delivery platforms and will market the package to streaming content providers.

The Sprint new PCS Vision package centers on Samsung's MM-A700 multi-media phone, which is the first CDMA device in the United States to deliver streaming audio and video content from sources such as CNN, NBC, FOX Sports, The Weather Channel, and E! Entertainment.

The 4.2-ounce clamshell by Samsung also features a megapixel camera and digital camcorder, allowing consumers to send/receive hi-resolution images or videos with Sprint PCS Picture MailSM and Sprint PCS Video Mail services.

The deal is significant for Apple . Sprint now becomes its first U.S. customer to adopt the Xserve/QuickTime pairing. As previously reported, Apple has been wooing content delivery providers and telecommunication companies with its out-of-the-box approach. The package has been popular outside of the U.S. with such companies as Japanese giants NTT DoCoMo and KDDI.

Frank Casanova, Apple's director of QuickTime marketing, told internetnews.com that despite the high-quality packaging and multi-media accessibility Apple is best known for, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company is also a low-cost alternative.

"For about $5,000, you can get a system out of the box gives you gets you all of the hardware and software you need to produce 4,000 multiple streams," Casanova said. "For you to run with RealNetworks, you would spend about the same $5,000 for the hardware and then have to write out a $45,000 check to RealNetworks to run the streams."

As for Windows Media Player, Casanova said Microsoft's solution is proprietary and does not include support of the same standards that Apple and RealNetworks do.

One area Apple is really racking up points is through its QuickTime platform. Under the Sprint contract, Video Mail taken and sent by Samsung's MM-A700 handset is automatically opened as a QuickTime file. If the end user does not currently have QuickTime installed, the software will prompt the recipient to download the latest version. Casanova said based on Apple's tracking capabilities, the majority of QuickTime traffic -- some 98 percent of its distribution -- is on non-Mac platforms.

The latest version of QuickTime (v. 6.5) offers extensive support for 3GPP and 3GPP2, including Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) and Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR) audio, MPEG-4 and H.263 video, 3G Text (TX3G) and native .3GP file format support.

Phone manufacturers are keeping a keen eye on Apple's progress with the H.264 codec because it can support high definition signals now, but is expected to scale down to 3G data rates. Casanova said the full range of H.264 should be realized when the Mac OS X "Tiger" debuts, however upgrades will be up to each individual handset manufacturer.

Apple has been making headway in allowing its software to run various mobile platforms. The company recently inked a deal to put Apple's iTunes music service on Motorola cell phones.

Sprint's plan with the MM-A700 by Samsung is available for as little as USD$249.99 with a rebate and a two-year agreement. Current subscribers may add Sprint TV to their existing plan for USD$9.99 per month or add in the Multimedia Pack for USD$25 per month and get unlimited free access to Sprint TV, in addition to Picture Mail, Video Mail, Vision and 100 SMS for just $25.00 per month.

Currently, Sprint has about 6.9 million subscribers to its PCS Vision Internet service. According to its latest financial statement, the company's wireless data business is on track to turn out $800 million in revenue if it continues on its current pace.