[thelist] QuickTime 5 Consensus

John Dowdell jdowdell at macromedia.com
Fri Jan 24 14:49:01 CST 2003

Summary: Info on different audiences, different testing techniques, and a
pointer to fairly good current stats for consumer viewability of various
video formats. I don't have a lead on panorama viewing, however.

At 2:13 PM 1/23/3, Rob Smith wrote:
> what percent of the "world" has QuickTime or the ability
> to view the QTVR Panoramic Movies?

A lot depends on what the word "the world" means.... ;-)

I'm guessing you're really concerned about which portion of your visitors
could immediately see your rich content without having to install anything
new. Each site's audience differs a bit, so testing your own audience's
current technical capabilities is the surest way to go. But that's hard to
do after the fact like this.... :(

(Browsers which use Netscape Plugins expose an array of installed plugins,
and this info can be collected for a site in various ways. IE/Win uses
ActiveX Controls instead of plugins, and I'm not sure offhand how the
server can query the system's capabilities for this audience.)

Sometimes "the world" means "the people who do or will visit a particular
site". Sometimes it means particular class of sub-audience, like consumers
in general, or school computers in general. Sometimes it means everyone who
has a browser, sometimes it means everyone who can get somewhere where they
can use a browser.

> http://www.finfacts.com/tv/ftv/internet_video_faq.pdf
> http://www.apple.com/quicktime/whyqt/

I believe that FAQ's numbers may have been derived from an older study
which first took people who had recently seen a streaming-video
presentation (as opposed to a prepared and static web video presentation),
and then asked which format they had used. That's the only study I recall
where someone estimated such high proportions for Real, and if this is the
case, then it was an incorrect extrapolation from "people who had recently
seen streaming" to "percent of home computers with Real installed".

The QT page says "QT5 was downloaded over 100 million times". Some of the
staff responsible for these numbers used to work at Macromedia long ago,
and I remember that they measured initial download requests rather than
completed downloads. I'm not sure whether the same tactic is used today,
but I haven't seen any indications on the Apple site that they're actually
talking about complete and successful downloads. (The drop-off rate in
downloads is dramatic... for awhile I remember that the small Flash Player
had 30% of its download requests aborted, and the larger Shockwave Player
had something like half of all initial requests aborted. The drop-off
increases in a more-than-linear relationship with filesize.)

Here are some ways to measure a particular audience:
a)  how often is the extension requested?
b)  how often is it successfully delivered?
c)  how often is it successfully installed?
d)  what percentage of people can successfully view the content?

(C) falls prey to the multiple-install problem, and the multiple-computer,
multiple-browser problems. (B) falls prey to unsuccessful installs, as well
as the problems of (C). The big problem with (D) is in finding a sample
which is representative of the particular audience of the site under

For what it's worth, MediaMetrix tested their regular consumer focus groups
last December on which types of pages they could immediately see, in their
current browser, without downloading anything new. This has current
consumer data for various video architectures:
(Methodology and sample tests are a directory or two up from here)

Versioning tests were then done on the Flash and Shockwave content:

With Flash 6 content now viewable by about 70% of consumers tested, it's
now the default video format on the web. (Pretty shocking for something
introduced last spring!) But Flash has only a single small codec in it, and
doesn't have the range of streaming and panoramic features that you'd find
in the larger video architectures. Each technology still has its place...
the hard part is matching it to the current audience.


John Dowdell, Macromedia Developer Support, San Francisco
(Best to reply on-list, to avoid my mighty spam filters!)
Technotes: http://www.macromedia.com/support/search/
Column: http://www.macromedia.com/desdev/jd_forum/
Technical daily diary: http://jdmx.blogspot.com/

More information about the thelist mailing list