Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco have joined forces to drive the delivery of multimedia applications over the Internet.
Called Networked Multimedia Connections (NMC), the alliance will act as a powerful "think tank", uniting the R&D resources of all three companies.
The research team will work out of a multimedia lab at Cisco's US headquarters in California.
The first products to emerge from the alliance are expected to focus heavily on the delivery of multimedia over the Internet, and to be available before the end of the year.
Part of NMC's goal is to make "producing and delivering multimedia easier and more cost-effective", according to Don Listwin, Cisco's senior vice president for market development. NMC will also pursue an agreement to establish international multimedia standards.
The alliance has been widely commended throughout the industry. However, there are concerns that Intel, Cisco and Microsoft will now move into yet another dominant position in a field once led by the likes of Apple.
Commenting on the alliance, David Lau Kee, managing director of Criterion Software, developer of 3D modelling software, said: "This was bound to happen with three of them pulling together all the pieces of the pie.
What's interesting is that with Cisco on board they can now make the networking a bit less of an obstacle. But as far as companies like Apple are concerned, they've been pushed out completely."
An Intel spokeswoman confirmed Apple was not involved with NMC, but said: "There's no reason why it can't be."
She added: "One of our principal aims is to offer solutions that deliver multimedia across intranets, particularly for training and so on."
NMC's Web site is: http:// developer.intel.com/ial/ind_init/netmm/index.htm.
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