Image Processing Reference
In-Depth Information
One interesting initiative is the Helix server. This is an open-source project and is
becoming quite popular among the academic and scientific communities, which have a
history of participating in open-source initiatives.
Risk Factors in Adopting Real Networks Media
The biggest single risk here is that end users must download a player that is not automat-
ically installed when they buy their computer. Microsoft Windows Media Player and the
Apple QuickTime player both have a significant advantage over Real Networks media
because they are already installed on their home platforms.
This is actually not such a downside as it appears to be. Consumers will download
a player if they are assisted through the process. If you provide content in Real Networks
format and also test for the necessary plug-ins with some JavaScript, then a very easy
introduction to the process of downloading and installing a plug-in is possible.
If you do use the Real Networks format and player, you will reach a segment of the
viewing audience on the Linux platform that neither Microsoft nor Apple is serving. You
can get Windows Media players for Solaris, but not for any other UNIX platform.
Probably the most significant benefit of using Real Networks is that it is more
portable across different platforms than the other players. Its production tools used to lack
some portability to the Mac OS X platform, but this is no longer the case and it does sup-
port Linux very well.
Because other companies like Popwire Technology are also implementing produc-
tion tools on Mac OS for Real and Windows Media video formats, you are no longer lim-
ited to using just a Windows platform if you would prefer to use an alternative.
Using Open Standards Within Real Networks Players
Like the other proprietary offerings, the Real Networks players are also capable of sup-
porting open-standards playback. Appendix L summarizes the available format and
player combinations.
H.264 Implications for Real Networks
Does the emergence of MPEG-4 threaten the position of Real Networks in the market? For
some time, Real Networks has made little revenue from players, and its server market
now generates far less revenue than it previously did. The company recognized that this
was happening and decided to go the open-source route with the Helix server.
The MPEG-4 standard represents more of an opportunity than a threat to Real
Networks, and while the company may yet make some money out of its proprietary
technologies, reaching a wider audience for a subscription-based service is likely to yield
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