Microsoft and RealNetworks are conspicuous by their absence from a group formed to introduce open standards into the streaming media sector.
Apple, Cisco and Sun Microsystems have formed the Internet Streaming Media Alliance (ISMA), which also includes Philips Electronics and Kasenna, SGI's content delivery spin-off.
The companies said the alliance aims to accelerate the broad adoption of standards and interoperability to streaming media content over IP networks.
However, streaming media heavyweights Microsoft and RealNetworks are not included in the list of members, although they have both been invited to join.
According to ISMA, open standards will make it easier for developers to format streaming media content and for end users to download and use them. Targeted areas include quality of service, digital rights management and billing.
Although standards already exist for the fundamental pieces required to deploy streaming media over IP, ISMA said it will adopt elements of those and new standards in a forthcoming full specification. Cross platform and multi-vendor interoperability will be key issues, said the alliance.
ISMA has been working on an initial specification for streaming Mpeg-4 video and audio over IP networks, which will be circulated for review and presented at the alliance's first formal meeting in February.
Rajiv Puranik, vice-president of engineering at multimedia developer On 24, said: "ISMA plans to make streaming media as straightforward as sending email messages."
Sujata Ramnarayan, an analyst at researcher Gartner, said a standard such as Mpeg-4 would solve many issues facing the industry today, such as the ability for consumers to play any format with a single player, as well as make it easier to offer video-related services.
"It will also benefit content providers who would not have to encode at different bit rates and formats," Ramnarayan added.
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