The Leopard Report: Please Make QuickTime Pro Free!

February 9th, 2007

When Apple decided to charge you $1.99 to upgrade your recent Mac’s AirPort hardware to support the draft 802.11 standard for speedier Wi-Fi, some of you took it with relative calm. However, some of you thought Apple was just being greedy as usual, although they presented a set of arguments that it was all done for accounting purposes, not to rip you off.

Well, there is one example where I feel Apple is overdoing it just a little bit — make that quite a bit — and that’s QuickTime Pro, which is the enhanced version of QuickTime that exacts a $29.99 tribute to unlock some extra features.

Unfortunately, if you haven’t done a little checking in advance, you may not know what you’re missing until you try to access a feature in QuickTime and find a hideous message in the menu bar labels that it requires a Pro upgrade.

So what do you get when you shell out this modest sum? Well, according to Apple, there are a host of features that you won’t enjoy with the basic or free version. These include the ability to convert media formats so you can share audio and video content on your iPod or mobile phone. There are also basic editing capabilities, such as adding a sound track, rotating video and so on and so forth.

Perhaps the most useful feature for just about everybody is support for full-screen playback. Of course, you can also do that now in iTunes, so this isn’t a terribly compelling feature. And of course, you can capture audio with your USB microphone, which is useful for creating a basic Podcast, but isn’t that something that you would normally do in GarageBand?

Besides, do you really accept QuickTime as an audio editing application? Certainly I don’t.

All right, so maybe QuickTime Pro isn’t all that compelling for most of you, although I use it from time to time to convert or encode files for my two radio shows.

However, it’s the principle of the thing. Why is it so important for Apple to have two variations of QuickTime, one free and one as a commercial product? Is that $29.99 so crucial to Apple’s bottom line, or does it just upset people who discover, to their horror, that the free QuickTime download they got for their Mac or PC is a crippled product?

Now I don’t care so much about the price of admission as much as I think that Apple should give it all up and set QuickTime free. After all, they have record profits, right? It’s bad enough that there are no upgrade discounts for Apple’s consumer products, but charging for QuickTime Pro doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. It conveys an image that Apple is being a little petty and greedy, looking to eke out profits from everything, and you know that, compared to Microsoft, that’s not entirely true.

I can understand that sort of policy from Microsoft, particularly with the way that Windows Vista upgrade kits are designed. There if you find the version you have somehow lacks the features you expected or need, you just call Microsoft, pay the price of admission, and they’ll give you a user license number that will unlock the higher-end versions from your installation CD.

Of course, QuickTime Pro is similar in a vague sense, because entering the registration number in the QuickTime preference panel magically unlocks all those restricted features. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that you can take the very same number and use it on any Mac in your home or office. Apple doesn’t use any online serialization scheme that activates those extra features (at least not yet!), nor do I think that Steve Jobs will send a team of lawyers to your home if you don’t buy a separate license for each computer.

But I do not intend to encourage people to violate a software license simply because I don’t like the policy. For now, I can only suggest you check the freeware and shareware offerings that might replace some of the features that you have to pay to access in QuickTime Player. Will that send Apple the proper message about such things?

I can’t say, but maybe, along with possibly including iLife ’07 as part of Mac OS 10.5 Leopard, Apple will relent and give up this misbegotten QuickTime Pro scheme once and for all.

Then you’ll have even more ammunition to use when you say that Microsoft is too greedy. Consider the possibilities.

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36 Responses to “The Leopard Report: Please Make QuickTime Pro Free!”

  1. Mr. Steinberg, if you are to have your own public forum for which to post your own opinions, you really should be less sensitive. Not to add flame to the fire, but to me it seems the previous poster made a valid observation. Your taking offense to his comment does nothing more than validate what he had to say. To me it also seems like you are insulting him by calling his comment “nonsense.” Is it nonsense because you do not agree with him? I guess since this is your site only your opinions matter. I realize a guy has to have a fairly large opinion of yourself to creat and maintain a site just so he can sound off about things. If you’re too immature to take a little criticism from a visitor maybe you need to think about another line of work. I just bought a Macintosh recently, so this is the first time I have visited your site, which I linked to from another sight. But if this is the kind of behavior I can expect from you, this may very well be the last time I visit. Talk about bad form.

    So it is valid to say that anyone who objects to Apple’s $29.99 charge for QuickTime Pro is cheap, right?

    Because that is the issue that I addressed in my message.

    It also sounds to me that you are being a little overly sensitive to the issue. I have a right to respond as I see fit, just as readers have a right, within the realm of good taste, to disagree. Are we understanding each other now?


  2. Moctod says:

    Adam/Stephanie, your ‘arguments’ are nonsense. Atleast in the context of this reasonable debate regarding any ‘valid’ merits of Apple’s pricing for QTPro.

    Again, the question that many (long time) ‘Mac Users’ would love to understand is: If Apple makes loads of profit selling Macs — which include LOTS of ‘free’ software as part of the package — then why do they need to charge extra to ‘unlock’ QT into QTPro?

    Do ‘you’ have a reasonable theory, or will you continue your ‘immature’ insistance that anyone that disagrees — is a WHINER.

    To repeat: On a new Mac: All of iLife is free. AddressBook, iCal, GarageBand, Mail, Safari, TextEdit, et al.,are all free. Even Big Bang Board Games, ComicLife, and OmniOutliner are provider to us free of charge. Yet, QT is 90% free. Huh?

    Jeez, GarageBand is four times the code that QTPlayer is, yet all of GB’s features are COMPLETELY available.

    If they need it that bad, why not charge $30 more for ever Mac?

    Finally, if everyone including the Windows folks got QTPro, then no one would have deal with those crappy AVIs anymore 😉

  3. Moctod says:

    Speaking of AVIs. QTAmateur doesn’t work.

  4. Morpheosity says:

    Gene Steinberg – once a tool, always a tool. God bless the internet.

  5. Gene Steinberg – once a tool, always a tool. God bless the internet.

    I realize you are under the belief there is some point to what you made, but tool of what?


  6. Brian says:

    The answer is quite simple. Apple posts a LOT of quicktime movies. So do others who are making them. Apple wants to limit the number of people who can copy those movies. This makes the format more attractive to content producers trying to choose between Quicktime, Windoze Media, and RealPlayer. Windoze media, in particular, like to bill their product as being totally wrapped in DRM to the point that your ‘assets’ are protected. It’s really not that secure, but Quicktime is quite open by comparison. Still, to have it so open as to support download of any moovie object makes the format less attractive. They know that most folks are not going to pay this ridiculous price, so that they can tell content producers that, for the most part, folks will not just be copying QT content to their drives.

    I agree, it’s incredibly annoying. But I don’t think the point is the $29 for Apple.

  7. Ilgaz says:

    QT Pro is not big deal, people go mad about the freaking FULL SCREEN option. Enough, enough, really enough Apple.

    Don’t tell me AppleScript hacks etc. Isn’t it Apple telling “the first experience is important”? Well, buy a Quad G5 like me or Mac pro for thousands of dollars, launch Quicktime, see it whines about pro!

    There goes the first experience.

  8. Ilgaz says:

    Brian, anyone who is enough techie to want to copy their trailers to another device knows they already have the file, in Quicktime or Browser cache.

  9. Moctod says:

    Brian, that sounds like a reasonable argument. thanx

    Maybe Apple could allow ‘the 3% crowd’ to have QTPro as part of their cult membership benefits.

    It’s a proven fact that: Macs are twice the price of PCs; WinPCs have 88.6% marketshare; WinFolks don’t pay for software — this should surely keep downloaded media under control.


  10. Brian says:


    Exactly right. But they don’t want 90% of folks to be able to copy the videos freely. Content producers want page views. If you let ‘joe 6-pack’ download the file then he could just as well email the file and not the URL. Again, the page producers want MOST folks to have to visit the site.

    I never said that an expert could not copy or assemble the cache files, etc…


    Thanks, I have thought about it (wondered really) a few times before seeing this, this is the ‘rationalization’ I came up with. 🙂

    As far as Macs being ‘2X’ as expensive as a PC, well, I think you have your own reality distortion going there. There must have been 100 PC techs that blogged about the MacBook being MORE computer for LESS price than comparable Dells, etc… So, I think you are totally living in the past there, if you think there is anywhere near this difference in price. Sure, normally they are a little more, but it’s more like 10% and is certainly nowhere near 2x unless you want to compare total crap celerons, etc… to the Apple stuff, which is simply ridiculous.

    Then again, maybe you have been looking at USED mac prices. A used Mac, that may have sold for 10% more than a truely comparable PC (a delusion there since you are so limited in OS choice, IMHO) is easily worth 2X the price within a year or two.

    PCs aren’t worth anything after they are a year old. Ancient iBooks are still bringing $400+ dollars. The reason is because they are worth it.

  11. Moctod says:


    Sorry, the winky-face was supposed to be a Sarcasm Alert.

    Read: Macs ARE NOT twice the price of PCs; 88.6% is made up — just like any ‘pundit’ numbers; and WinFolks don’t pay for software! 😉

    FWIW, I bought an eMac700 on Feb 13/2003, and sold it Feb 5, 2007 — For $350, with no haggling. [Do you have it? Yes. I want it . Okay.] I told a die-hard WinFriend — who didn’t believe me. I showed him the check.

  12. Brian says:


    Oops, my mistake! 🙂 Thanks for the clarification, I’ve been preaching to the choir again…


  13. Moctod says:


    Your theory actually seems plausible when you consider how FairPlay works to satisfy ‘The Big Four’. [DRMed AAC > iTunes > CD > rip as MP3]

    Yeah, I get it. I don’t like it, but I can live with it. I just wish I’d have some luck with QTAmateur!

    Any links, BTW?

  14. reinharden says:

    I wonder if 70% of the complaints wouldn’t go away if they simply allowed full screen movie viewing in Quicktime not-Pro?

    I am aware that Apple has to pay for the various codecs for encoding/decoding content and I personally don’t think it’s a horrible affront for them to charge $29.99 for that (I was more annoyed back when whey charged an additional $19.99 for the AVI or MPG codec). People who want to edit audio/video should reasonably expect to perhaps have to pay a bit more for the privilege.

    But if Quicktime is the “media player” for the Macintosh, turning off full-screen playback doesn’t make nearly as much sense and is much harder to support from a licensing perspective.

    I wonder if it was just a case of product marketing discovering that full-screen playback made enough people pay for the license that the codec rights holders were happy enough to shut up without jacking the price of every Mac up another $30.

    I’m biased in that while I’ve paid for the danged license more than once, I rarely if ever use Quicktime Player.


  15. chromefree says:

    Not only do we pay the thirty bucks for QT Pro, but every two years or so, when a new version comes out, get ready to shell out another $29.99 for Pro features.

    This is infuriating and diminishes all the good and glory Apple deserves.

  16. Kalera says:

    What frustrates me is that, in order to make a simple Youtube movie with sound using a third-party webcam, right now the ONLY option appears to be to purchase Quicktime Pro. iMovie doesn’t recognize most webcams, including the Logitech Quickcam Pro.

    It makes no sense to me that Apple is backing users into a corner like this, for basic functionality that Windows users have out of the box, or have multiple options for free downloads. Users should be able to plug any USB webcam into their mac and record movies with sound using the free included software with their Mac. This has been an ongoing situation for long enough that there is no way it’s simply an oversight. Shame on Apple, for putting the squeeze on Mac-users and forcing them to shell out even more for an iSight or Quicktime Pro, just to achieve basic video podcast functionality.

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