DoCoMo and MPEG-4 and QuickTime (oh my?)

On Monday, DoCoMo will unveil three new 3G phones (made by Fujitsi, Mitsubishi and NEC) for its network. The bigest news from DoCoMo’s point of view (see the AP and Reuters articles below) seems to be that (1) all three phones support digital cameras as an opition, and (2) the phones’ battery life is much better, offering battery life closer to that of pre-3G phones.

However, all three phones also support the 3GPP standard, which means that they support MPEG-4 (although not the ISMA “flavor” that QuickTime supports today). Although DoCoMo is not emphasizing 3GPP or MPEG-4 in its announcement — this makes sense, since consumers could care less about codecs or formats — Apple is doing its best to ride DoCoMo’s PR coattails. As Rhonda Stratton, Apple’s QuickTime Senior Product Line Manager, told MacCentral:

This is the next step in the delivery of a promise we made when we announced QuickTime 6 with MPEG-4 capability. We started to see some things on the Internet with MPEG-4, but now we are seeing another industry pick up the standard for 3GPP, which is based on MPEG-4.

It’s gutsy to try and spin the DoCoMo announcement as part of an Apple master plan, since DoCoMo’s plans to support 3GPP (and therefore MPEG-4) had nothing to do with Apple or QuickTime. (You could really only get away with this kind of positioning with a non-telecom savvy reporter working for a Mac-specific publication.) Also, 3GPP is not “based on” MPEG-4, although a 3GPP “flavor” of MPEG-4 is specified as part of the standard.

In a News.com story, The Yankee Group analyst Ryan Jones seems confused. “The real story is that Apple is building a presence in the device market with QuickTime,” he said, apparently not understanding that QuickTime has nothing to do with the MPEG-4 support on those devices.

Rhonda also announced that a dot release of QuickTime will support reading and writing 3GPP-compatible MPEG-4 files before the end of the year. That’s great, but Apple has far more important things on their To Do list (like fixing QuickTime’s industry-trailing MPEG-4 Video encoder). | AP story | Reuters story | MacCentral story | News.com story