Apple is testing new compression software that it plans to use in a future version of QuickTime.

The new technology is called MPEG-4 part 10 or H.264/AVC that is already the next-generation video compression technology in MPEG-4, according to

Apple believes this technology will succeed MPEG-2 (as used in digital and cable TV transmissions) as the industry standard.

Apple senior director QuickTIme product marketing Frank Casanova says the company is positioning the improvements as the standard for video encoding for "everything from 3G to High Definition (HD) TV broadcast".

"We're testing it internally in Cupertino", he said, adding that while the technology isn't shipping as part of QuickTime yet "it's only a matter of 'when'".

A recent report on from research firm Frost and Sullivan reveals Apple's multimedia standard is gaining ground: QuickTime now holds 36.8 per cent of the media player market; RealPlayer 24.9 per cent and Microsoft Windows Media 38.2 per cent.

Casanova points out that this data does not include digital camera software, enhanced CDs, PDAs and certain software packages.

Apple yesterday revealed that over 250 million copies of QuickTime 6 have been downloaded since its release in 2002.