Death to QuickTime Pro

41 Comments

Death to QuickTime Pro There might have been a good reason, at some point, for Apple to try selling QuickTime Pro. Not that I can remember such a time. While Apple forges new ground constantly in the digital media arena with innovative hardware and software such as the iPhone, iPod, Aperture, and Final Cut, the online store still attempts to sell QT Pro with the taglet “Upgrade from video watcher to video maker.”

Yeah, right.

I’ve already alluded once that almost all of QT Pro’s functionality is easily emulated with iMovie ’06 — and I’ve verified that it continues to be with the completely redesigned iMovie ’08. What exactly are QT Pro’s big selling points according to the Apple Store?

  • Convert media formats. So? We can do that with freeware, donationware, charityware, or shareware that is actually worth the asking price.
  • Edit with ease. Isn’t this what iMovie is all about? Did I miss a memo?
  • Create stunning video. Um… Ditto. Also, iMovie ’08 will export directly to YouTube, while QT Pro does not.
  • Build your QuickTime video library. With QT Pro you can save movies from the web. Here’s a hint: You can do that anyway with Safari, Firefox, and most other browsers without even having to open a media player at all.
  • Record your podcast. Now that’s just silly. Apple gives us iMovie and GarageBand for that one.

Even the QT Pro product page reads like it hasn’t been updated in two years. I honestly wonder how many people have ever chipped in the $30 Apple asks for the Pro license. QT Pro is superfluous and it couldn’t possibly be contributing to Apple’s profitability. All new Macs come with iLife pre-installed. I rushed out and bought iLife ’08 the day it dropped, like many others; the $80 price tag for iLife is reasonable, but $30 for QT Pro is inane. Can they even continue to justify the costs of sustaining development and marketing?

I say the answer is a big, flat thud of a no. So I call today for Apple to drop QuickTime Pro from their software offerings, and instead of duplicating code across products, to spend those person-hours on more innovation. While there are probably few person-hours spent on QT Pro, why spend any at all? What scarce features still unique to Pro (if any are left) could, and should, be integrated into QuickTime and iLife.

Death to QuickTime Pro! Who’s with me?

41 Comments

Samuel

Ahh, but I have recently learned that if you want to edit the metadata of a mov file then its better done in QTPro, it can be done in iTunes but there is a ridiculous 255 char limit, where as in QT Pro, there is not.

It might not matter to you but I have a lot to say about my home videos.

minikperi

Billy – You have raised some very good points. They are well reasoned. I wholeheartedly support your thesis that after all is considered that QT Pro should be either free or reduced in price.

Billy Halsey

@ Rich — I appreciate your comments, and I hadn’t considered your point of view. “If I were Apple,” though, I’d still tidy up the QTPro thing before I considered things like telling my customers to pay multiple times for the same song to use as a ringtone; publishing my “thoughts on music” by saying I’d “whole-heartedly” embrace digital media that is unencumbered with DRM then turn around and DRM my own Live from SoHo albums; igniting the ire of many a customer by dropping the price of a long-awaited product by 33 percent just weeks after it drops; or requiring an iTunes Store account to even use an iPod Touch.

But then, thankfully for its consumers, I’m not Apple.

Rich

“Adriel — Shouldn’t multimedia production houses be using the ProApps? If I were Apple, I’d do away with QT Pro as a standalone product and integrate its features into both iLife and the ProApps — Logic and Final Cut of all levels. I’m not a ProApps user, but I’d be shocked if the features you describe aren’t already available in those tools. For the pro/am market, there are always the excellent opensource (but not Apple-backed) products MPlayer/MEncoder and FFmpeg, which support everything you mentioned.”

With all due respect, that’s the same ridiculous argument that’s been made regarding the rape and pillage of the once-great iMovie. Who are you to say what tools a pro should use? For me, the ability to record video from my camera directly in QT Pro has been a godsend. It never worked right in iMovie for some reason. Just because you personally don’t use the advanced functions of QTP doesn’t mean they don’t have value to those of us that do. If you don’t want to pony up the $35, fine. For myself and others, it’s a great bargain.

Nate

While of course I wish Quicktime Pro was free or cheaper, I much prefer it over the open source and iLife alternatives for quick and dirty recording and editing. Here’s hoping it sticks around.

Adriel

Good points Billy. BTW, QT Pro is included as part of Final Cut Pro, as it should be. The FCP serial number unlocks QT.

Andy

The only difference between QuickTime and QuickTime Pro is a license key that enables the player to save and convert.

QT (Pro) is a great product, and the $30 fee is really nothing more than a minor annoyance. It would be nice if it were dropped, but I’d much rather see them concentrating on converting QuickTime to Cocoa (much of it is still Carbon)

vanni

Billy – You have raised some very good points. They are well reasoned. I wholeheartedly support your thesis that after all is considered that QT Pro should be either free or reduced in price.

Billy Halsey

@ vanni — There are many incongruities between Windows and Mac versions of Apple’s dual-platform software. Want to script iTunes on Windows? Good luck! That’s one of Mac’s selling points. AppleScript makes programmatic access to the entire iTunes library trivial. I don’t see an incongruity between Mac and Windows for QT any differently.

@ Adriel — Point well taken. There are indeed times when it’s best to pull out a touch-up brush. But your analogy only reinforces my underlying point that the functionality that QT Pro provides should be freely included with the ProApps and with iLife.

My point isn’t so much that there’s no need for what QT Pro offers, but that it’s poor form for Apple to charge $30 atop the price of iLife and the ProApps — these products should subsume QT Pro, perhaps in the simple form of one one of the .pkg files that are included in the .mpkg (metapackage) that’s installed), but not as a separate product called “QuickTime Pro”.

@Stephanie — As I just said to Adriel, isn’t it a bit insulting for Apple to tell its pro customers, “Yes, you just paid $1300 for Final Cut Studio and another $1000 for Logic Pro. But to actually do what you want, you need to buy a $30 license for QuickTime Pro, too.” It’s more insulting than new car dealers that charge upwards of $75 for floor mats.

As for those who use non-Apple multimedia apps, such as those from Adobe or other vendors, again, having the functionality of QT Pro rolled into iLife (which should be preinstalled on multimedia creators’ systems) will alleviate that issue as well.

@ everyone — Let’s raise the ante. If Apple really cares about QT Pro (cost of patent licensing and what-not) and still sees it as a revenue generator, then I suggest this: Roll QT Pro’s features into iLife, stop bundling iLife with new systems (also lowers patent licensing costs), and lower the cost of iLife to, say, $39.99—$49.99. Not everyone uses iLife, but those who do would appreciate the lower price and not having to fake QT Pro with iMove, GarageBand, or third-party apps.

Stephanie Guertin

I was going to note that many pros use QT Pro to gain access to codecs that Apple does not otherwise supply – .avi is one of the big ones, in my experience. That’s been covered.
However, I have worked with clients who preferred other video editors to Final Cut and Apples ProApps, and thus needed QT Pro. It would have been silly to tell the user who had just installed a 2400$ top-of-the-line Adobe suite that now he also needed to but Final Cut – but 30$ I could slip into the basic setup budget.

Adriel

@billy – Yes, multimedia houses use the pro apps, but sometimes QT Pro features of Quicktime Player are needed to bring all the outputs from the different Pro Apps together into the final “delivery” movie – especially if there is anything more to work with than a basic video track and stereo audio track. There is a good amount of functionality to the QuickTime media layer that each of the individual iLife or Pro apps don’t get into. Besides, (forgive the metaphor) the fastest way to touch up a little paint scratch is with a little brush rather than gathering the spayer and air compressor, mixing the paint and reducer, finding the darned breathing mask, taping the edges, and then cleaning it all up when you are done. The QT Pro enabled Quicktime player can go a long way when you need to make a little change to a media file without putting everything back through workflow.

vanni

@billy: “And with all new systems shipping with iLife, who doesn’t have it? A few legacy systems, but personally, I’d rather pay $80 for the entire iLife suite than $30 for QT Pro, wouldn’t you?”

Absolutely! BUT Windows users don’t have iLife. …they have to pay for the upgrade. And therefore so should Mac users who don’t have iLife. If i have iLife06 and don’t want iLife08 how will I get a new QT pro but through upgrading old QT to new QT pro. Ditto for Windws users. I believe that QT Pro should have a fee. But It should be lower than $30. perhaps $10 – $15 is a fair price

Billy Halsey

@Juan — I’m not advocating dropping the QuickTime engine. (To be more accurate, the engine is actually CoreVideo, CoreAudio, etc., and not QuickTime anyway.) I’m saying that the cost of the Pro version far outweighs the few benefits that cannot be obtained with the entry-level QuickTime Player plus iLife. And, to metaquote Steve from last week, “That’s technology.”

@Adriel — Shouldn’t multimedia production houses be using the ProApps? If I were Apple, I’d do away with QT Pro as a standalone product and integrate its features into both iLife and the ProApps — Logic and Final Cut of all levels. I’m not a ProApps user, but I’d be shocked if the features you describe aren’t already available in those tools. For the pro/am market, there are always the excellent opensource (but not Apple-backed) products MPlayer/MEncoder and FFmpeg, which support everything you mentioned.

Billy Halsey

@Galley — Definitely. Once the little Applescript to push the frontmost player into fullscreen came out, it was trivial and so fullscreen was essentially no longer a premium feature.

@Tice — Good point there! No one forces us to upgrade iLife from ’06 to ’08, but to use iTunes Store often requires iTunes software updates, which means QuickTime upgrades.

@Chris Lorensson — I wouldn’t know how to accomplish it with QT Pro. My first, last, and all podcasts have been produced in GarageBand (occasionally with support from Audacity). Imagine, though, QT Pro’s few unique features, like who you’ve described, integrated into the Player at the cost of $10 more per iLife license, and the entire QT Pro goes out the window. I’m not a marketing exec, but that seems like a reasonable scenario to me.

@Schlaeps — For editing I can see your point, but I’m surprised to see you say you prefer QuickTime Pro for conversion. There are so many apps that can do it faster and better — many of them free or based on free software.

@vanni — And with all new systems shipping with iLife, who doesn’t have it? A few legacy systems, but personally, I’d rather pay $80 for the entire iLife suite than $30 for QT Pro, wouldn’t you?

Adriel

Quicktime Pro features are vital for professional multimedia work where you are prepping QuickTime clips for delivery (web, DVD, CD-ROM) without recompressing the whole movie file.
For instance, extracting an audio track, moving it into another codec and then adding it back into the original movie without recompressing the video track. Segmenting multiple clips together. Adding closed captioning tracks. Combining audio mastered in one application with video mastered in another without reprocessing either one. Creating reference movies, or flattening them into deliverable movies. Setting end-user playback quality levels and overall stereo levels.

QT Pro is an important pre-master tool for a multimedia production house. You are right though, for the general needs of the user, QT Pro is no longer needed.

Juan D. Cuclillas

QuickTime is what makes iTunes, iMovies, possible.

QT is the essence of the iApps without the eyecandy.

QT drives all of Apple apps, from iLife to Pro its apps

Dropping QT is like dropping the engine from a car.

If you don’t want to buy it, great. Don’t.

But asking apple to deny the rest of us the chance
to access the power of QT directly and without
going through its dressed up incarnations is nuts.

vanni

i have Pro. i agree that it should be rolled into iLife. If one has iLife then it turns QT to QT.pro. if you don’t have iLife then you have only plain QT as do those on Windows. Both can pay to upgrade.

Schlaeps

I would have to disagree. I find the loading time for Quicktime Pro far more acceptable for quick editing/converting. While it’s definitely no replacement for iMovie, for video makers like me it’s a God send to have a little app like that that can handle basic tasks. Well worth the $30 for it.

Chris Lorensson

I must disagree.

I run a podcast, and the only way I’m able to do it quickly and easily is with QT Pro. I agree, the $30 is a bit much, and it’s ridiculous that you have to pay again to constantly get the newer version, but I just want an app where I can do VERY basic audio 7 video editing without a lot of clutter.

Of course I could do all that with iMovie or Garageband or any other freeware app, but none of them are as slick and ‘OS X like’ as QT and I don’t want a bunch of stuff I don’t need.

Tice

“Edit with ease.” Yeah, it takes years to figure out all of the hidden features and twisted options.
I once bought Quicktime Pro but a few month later I had to update to the next version and well – my Quicktime Pro wasn’t Pro anymore and I had to pay again if I wanted it back. No way out. Shame on that!

I still have older versions of software which I don’t have to update for money.

Galley

Another reason to kill it off. Being able to view videos in Full Screen used to require the Pro version; now you can do that with the free version.

Billy Halsey

@Nicklet — So why not take the slim form factor of QT Pro, merge them into QT, and bump the price of an iLife license up by $10? At the rate Apple is diversifying their hardware lineup, they really need to streamline their software holdings. QT Pro is naturally the next unlucky swine in the abattoir. I would hold nothing against Apple, though, if they recovered 1/3 of the current cost ($10) in the process of merging Pro into the QT Player and iLife family.

Niclet

I use QT all the time. It’s part of OS X core and I rather use it that iMovie. Not so for video editing but for resources editing. It’s an excellent tool.

Billy Halsey

Nick’s got the nail on the head. Apple presumably does have to pay the piper at mp3licensing.com (who even at one time claimed — and possibly still do; their website is ambiguous — their patents apply to the AAC format), but if the functionality is delivered to users with iLife, then it’s fair to assume that Apple is considering the licensing cost as part of iLife as well. Buying QT Pro merely purchases an additional license from Thomson/Fraunhofer, et. al., as well as the QT License from Apple.

Pete raises a good point, and I wondered how long it would be before someone would. iLife doesn’t exist on PC, and unless it’s going to be revealed at “one more thing” in October at the Leopard announcement (who saw Safari for Windows coming?), there’s no reason to cut off the Windows line of QT Pro. But Mac QT Pro is still redundant. Any way you try to justify it, you can’t.

Nick — something tells me you won’t get that refund, but maybe a $15 store credit. ;-)

Nick

Even if it’s related to licensing, Apple should at least ship a copy of Pro with ilife. As mentioned we have imovie – which should include a similar amount of licensing for the codecs. Basically Apple are making us pay twice.

Free Pro with new mac or ilife only seems fair.

Jeff Harrell

I’m sure Apple has to pay various licensees a fee for each copy of QuickTime with encoding capabilities that’s delivered. To suggest that Apple should just pony up that license fee for every single copy of QuickTime shipped — including, you know, things like iTunes — strikes me as incredibly silly.

Pete

I guess you forgot that there’s a windows version that doesn’t have any Apple-based competition?

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