Apple, Ericsson, Sun create billable wireless solution

Apple Computer, L.M. Ericsson Telephone, and Sun Microsystems last week inked a partnership that will further enable companies and content providers to send multimedia files over a wireless network, while also giving providers a way to bill for it.

At Apple's QuickTime Live conference in Los Angeles, the three companies demonstrated the Content Delivery Solution. The solution combines Apple's QuickTime tools for content creation, Sun's streaming server technology that sits on top of Solaris and Sun hardware, and Ericsson's network interface node that will allow operators to provision these services on their network.

"Our technology allows the operator to enter the micro-billing arena. It gives them the ability to bill for transactions. It's a huge untapped market that banks can't do," said Patrick Kane, vice president of strategic business at Ericsson.

Kane was referencing the long-time struggle between carriers and banks over which the provider will become the consumer's trusted partner for offering Internet and wireless services. "At the sub-$15 level of revenues it doesn't justify banks doing it," added Kane.

The Content Delivery Solution at its core is based on adopting the latest version of Apple's QuickTime development platform for converting and compressing multimedia files to an MPEG4 format. MPEG4 is an IOS (International Organization for Standards) standard.

Apple has about 70 percent market share for multimedia content development, according to Kane, with RealNetworks owning about 15 percent. RealNetworks has committed to creating an MPEG4-compliant tool, said Kane.

A Sun product manager said Sun's streaming capability is also available as a standalone product.

"Using MPEG file format we can stream other types of content. MPEG4 has containers and you can put anything in those containers and a company could put it in their portal," said Videhi Mallela, product manager at Sun in Palo Alto, Calif.

At the QuickTime show, the partners demonstrated streaming video being sent simultaneously to a desktop PC, a handheld, and a set-top box, all of which is billable, noted Kane.

Sun's streaming server technology is in beta and available now. Prototypes of the entire solution are currently being shown to operators. The solution will run on any data protocol wireless networks and not on circuit switched networks, said Kane.

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