PacketVideo to support MS Windows Media Player

PacketVideo, a provider of MPEG 4 streaming video to wireless carriers announced this week that it will support Windows Media Audio and Video 9 series in its PacketVideo pvServer Mobilemedia content delivery system.

The PacketVideo technology is embedded in handsets and PDAs and has a server component. The agreement between the two companies means that PacketVideo will be able to deliver Windows Media content to handsets not using Microsoft Corp.'s Pocket PC operating system, such as the Symbian Ltd. operating system, used by Nokia Corp., and data-enabled cell phones of L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co.

PacketVideo will also use Microsoft's .Net technology to add SOAP and XML interfaces to MPEG 4 and Windows Media systems.

The fact that a small technology company of 150 employees is supporting the technology of one of the largest companies in the world, with more than 50,000 employees, would be insignificant except that PacketVideo owns or will soon own the lion's share of customer relationships with wireless network operators worldwide, according to Gerry Kaufhold, a principal analyst at In-Stat in Scottsdale, Ariz.

PacketVideo currently has systems deployed with NTT Docomo Inc. and T-Mobile International AG and is in trials with more than 40 major carriers worldwide.

"PacketVideo support gives Microsoft a huge opportunity in a market where it had little clout," Kaufhold said.

The importance to corporate users should also not be overlooked.

"In [the] corporate world there is already a lot of streaming content being produced in the Windows Media format. Microsoft Producer puts video and audio clips on PowerPoint presentations and that makes it mainstream," Kaufhold said.

Until now, however, remote corporate users for the most part have been unable to access these capabilities from their cell phones or wireless PDAs, which typically only support MPEG 4 streaming media.

"Within the next 12 months users will be able to gain access to their corporate steaming media over a cell or PDA, which will extend corporate content," Kaufhold said.

Although MPEG 4 is an industry standard and the Window Media player is not, the Microsoft technology also includes digital rights management capability, according to Ed Knapp, chief technology officer at PacketVideo in Los Angeles.

"Digital rights management allows companies to control the playback of content and how it is issued -- one play, numerous plays, etc. -- while MPEG 4 is still developing this," Knapp said.

However, MPEG 4 has what is called "arbitrary object transmission," which allows content creators to shape objects in a non-frame-based environment in order to do facial and body animation for creating avatars in customer service applications, Knapp said.

PacketVideo will also employ Microsoft's .Net technology by adding SOAP and XML interfaces to MPEG 4 and Windows Media systems, Knapp said.

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Ephraim Schwartz

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