Apple released QuickTime 6.3 last week. Marking the launch, Macworld spent time discussing the release with Frank Casanova, Apple's director of QuickTime product marketing.

"With QuickTime 6.3 we've built on the momentum we had with QuickTime 6.0 less than a year ago. Since the introduction of QuickTime 6 last June, we have distributed in excess of 100 million copies of the QuickTime Player. It's phenomenal, and that's just from our servers," claimed Casanova.

Casanova explained that the true distribution of QuickTime is hard to measure. It is included on enhanced music CDs, over 200 digital cameras ship with the standard, and 12 different titles or tools ship with QuickTime at the core of their architecture each day, according to the QuickTime guru.

Industry standards Apple's QuickTime 6 release marked a major commitment to standards that runs across Apple today, introducing support for new formats - MPEG-4 and AAC audio. Casanova discussed the evolution: "Years ago, QuickTime had a bunch of proprietary file formats and codecs. Microsoft had its own proprietary multimedia player, and Real.

"We looked at that model and decided that while we would still support our legacy codecs it was more interesting to us and more important to get behind the standards behind the multimedia industry. And? you know what? there wasn't one for the longest time."

MPEG-4 changed the mood. "The standard is now sweeping along through every trade show, whether the big mobile phone shows or broadcast shows, or the big European shows," said Casanova.

"It's all based on standards, and QuickTime got there first," he said.

The move to get involved in establishing a multimedia standard paid interesting dividends for Apple. "We were very interested in where this (MPEG-4) was going to go, we knew where it came from because it was built on the QuickTime file format. But we still had the question, how would the standard evolve? Well, very quickly - the codecs have evolved, and, at the same time, a whole new offshoot of the standard has evolved, called 3GPP."

3G opportunities The 3GPP standard has its own standard-setting body involving 400 companies. The group's goal is to provide "a lightweight audio video and text based environment that can be placed on mobile devices and played back on desktop computers, even when it is captured on a mobile device," Casanova explained.

It opens up new creative opportunities for Mac users, he said - as any device that complies with 3G will co-exist.

"A Mac user with Final Cut Pro or iMovie and QuickTime 6.3 installed can create 3G content," he said. "That content can be delivered to a cell phone by one of the providers." The 3G handsets have built-in video cameras, so users can capture video content that can be emailed to a Mac and seen on any desktop computer - Mac or PC - with QuickTime 6.3 installed.

While the UK 3G market is in its infancy with 3, the first operator to bring its product to market reportedly selling just 20,000 handsets so far, other markets are more advanced, Casanova revealed.

"If the Japanese market is any example of what will happen, it will come across Europe like a tidal wave," he revealed. The Japanese market is already exploding for 3G, and its success is good for Apple.

"QuickTime 6.3 means Apple has a role at either end of the 3G food chain," he told Macworld.