• 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. TjL says:

      You’ve echoed one of my favorite observations from Arstechnica http://arstechnica.com/reviews/os/macosx-10.4.ars/16:

      The total development cost of this software bundle is absolutely huge. The total retail cost of iLife alone is $80. And yet after spending $1,500 or more on a new Mac with this great software bundle, what’s waiting for you when you fire it up for the first time and try to watch a QuickTime movie trailer in full-screen mode? Why, it’s a nag screen asking you to pay $30 more for the “privilege” of calling the QuickTime APIs that are sitting right there in the library code on your disk.
      This is just criminally stupid. It mars the otherwise exemplary out-of-box experience for buyers of consumer Macs especially. Having spent well over $4,000 on my current crop of Mac hardware (plus $80 for iLife ’05 plus who knows how much for the Mac OS X Public Beta through Tiger), I find it personally insulting that I’m still not entitled to the “wonders” of QuickTime Pro.
      Yeah, sure, I can download a third-party movie player application and find a third-party QuickTime browser plugin. I can watch movie trailers in iTunes, which will go full-screen even without the magic “pro” key. Or I can google for an illegitimate QuickTime Pro key code. I can even shell out the $30. But it’s not the money that bothers me, it’s the principle. I’d be happy if Apple simply raised the price of its hardware by $30. On a $4,000+ bill, it’s practically a rounding error.

      If they are going to roll iLife and iWork into Leopard (while still making them available for others to purchase separately if they wish to stay with 10.4), I certainly hope they do the same with QuickTime Pro.

      One of the most insulting things to me was that when I switched from Windows to Mac — having purchased a Quicktime pro license for Windows — I found that not only wouldn’t it work on the Mac, they would not let me change the code to a Mac code, so I had to buy it again! Hey thanks! I just spent almost $3,000 to switch to Mac (this was before the Intel switch), including several hundred dollars for AppleCare…. Thanks for turning the knife a little more!

    2. vanni says:

      At the very least …QTPro should be offered to .Mac subscribers.

    3. John B says:

      I think you are confusing QuickTime, the system-level architecture, with QuickTime Player, an application that plays various media. It is QT Player that is crippled, not QT. What you are paying for with QT Pro is additional features for the QT Player application. QT itself is not crippled — it is always there and all of its functionality is freely available for any application developer to use.

      However I do agree that we should not have to pay extra to get the full functionality from QT Player.

    4. Lee G. says:

      Everyone is forgetting one thing, Apple has to pay licensing fees to MPEG-LA and other patent pools for “opening” up certain software. So it’s ok for Apple to pay 100 million x $2.50 so that you can get QT Pro for free? Everyone should think before they blog.

    5. Everyone is forgetting one thing, Apple has to pay licensing fees to MPEG-LA and other patent pools for “opening” up certain software. So it’s ok for Apple to pay 100 million x $2.50 so that you can get QT Pro for free? Everyone should think before they blog.

      So, let’s see. Apple should charge you $29.99 to cover their $2.50 expense. Yes, it makes perfect sense.

      Peace,
      Gene

    6. Greg Rebellion says:

      Well John B., you’re wrong. Congratulations. When you pay the $$$, you’ve paid for “Quicktime Pro”.

      This, to me, is infuriating as well. Especially considering the limited functionality that most people need it for. I don’t want to fire up iMovie just to trim a snip from a QT movie. But nothing is as maddening as the turnaround on free “.mac for life” that initially was a selling point for OS X.

      Still, all relatively a small price to pay for a super box.

    7. John B says:

      Greg,

      You say I’m wrong, yet a few sentences later confirm that what I said is correct. That is, “pro” functionality refers to the QT Player application only, not the system-level QT. You can still use other apps for that same functionality you get with the Pro version of QT Player — as you said in your example, iMovie — without paying for QT Pro. I never said anything about not getting QT Pro when you pay for it, just clarifying exactly what QT Pro is.

    8. Robert Taylor says:

      I agree that quicktime pro should be included with new MACS. I would not mind paying Apples License fee and perhaps a few dollars more for the app, but I am not going to shell out $29.

    9. DAG says:

      Even worse ids the fact that certain shareware transcodes faster than Quicktime & Compressor in FTPro. Charging $30 is a rip off.

    10. Dan Shockley says:

      By the way, you don’t even need other software to play Quicktime full-screen. Paste the following into Script Editor:

      tell application “QuickTime Player” to present movie 1

      Read more at:
      http://www.macosxhints.com/article.php?story=20050430024234333

    11. Dana Sutton says:

      What gravels me is that Apple doesn’t just charge this $30 as a lifetime charge, every now and again it wants $30 for an upgrade!

    12. Moctod says:

      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. [With a new machine]

      I truly wonder why Apple ‘nickel and dimes’ us on QT.

    13. All of iLife is free.

      Strictly on a new Mac. Otherwise you pay for it. I’m suggesting that be changed as well, since iLife is quote dependent on the OS.

      Peace,
      Gene

    14. Jeff Shaw says:

      What bugs me is that after you have paid for QT Pro it is not automatically available for all users on a particular machine. You have to enter the registration code for every single user, and in a school environment that is simply not feasible. Or does anyone know a way round that?

    15. BDK says:

      Quicktime Pro should be free for Mac users.

    16. Adam says:

      This sounds to me like a classic case of complaining for the sake of complaining, and the worst part is that some people actually make money from it. You do have other options, three come to mind… 1.) Find a different program. 2.) Switch to one of the various flavors of Linux, or 3.) Shut up and deal with it. It’s a shame some feel the need to malign a company for wanting to make a profit, especially when said company produces the most elegant, useful, and best priced commercially available operating system on the planet. Maybe you should just switch to Windows so you can actually have pertinent things to gripe about.

    17. This sounds to me like a classic case of complaining for the sake of complaining, and the worst part is that some people actually make money from it. You do have other options, three come to mind: 1.) Find a different program. 2.) Switch to one of the various flavors of Linux, or 3.) Shut up and deal with it. It’s a shame some feel the need to malign a company for wanting to make a profit, especially when said company produces the most elegant, useful, and best priced commercially available operating system on the planet. Maybe you should just switch to Windows so you can actually have pertinent things to gripe about.

      Sorry, I don’t buy the “love it or leave it” argument. If Apple has a policy that doesn’t make sense, we have every right to complain about it. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like the platform, or using Macs. More to the point, Apple does — sometimes anyway — listen to criticism and we won’t stop expressing criticisms here.

      Peace,
      Gene

    18. Adam says:

      That’s all well and good, but it’s still a complaint wrapped in sensationalism. Apple is a business whose main purpose is to make a profit for it’s shareholders. They put forth a product and it is your choice whether to buy it or not. By your reasoning, GM should have given me a V8 for the same price as the V6. Why? Well they already researched it, developed it, had it in stock, and the production of it probably is no more than that of the six-cylinder. But they don’t because the old adage of business is if you want more, you pay more. If you don’t like that, there are alternatives, I personally use a freeware program called QTAmateur, which in my opinion is everything Quicktime should have been. but the bottom line is the more profit Apple makes, the more money they will have to produce new and tantalizing products that in turn, I’m sure you will find some small fault with. I would be more impressed if you just came out and admitted your displeasure comes from the fact you are cheap. I know I am, which is why I use a freeware alternative.

    19. That’s all well and good, but it’s still a complaint wrapped in sensationalism. Apple is a business whose main purpose is to make a profit for it’s shareholders. They put forth a product and it is your choice whether to buy it or not. By your reasoning, GM should have given me a V8 for the same price as the V6. Why? Well they already researched it, developed it, had it in stock, and the production of it probably is no more than that of the six-cylinder. But they don’t because the old adage of business is if you want more, you pay more. If you don’t like that, there are alternatives, I personally use a freeware program called QTAmateur, which in my opinion is everything Quicktime should have been. but the bottom line is the more profit Apple makes, the more money they will have to produce new and tantalizing products that in turn, I’m sure you will find some small fault with. I would be more impressed if you just came out and admitted your displeasure comes from the fact you are cheap. I know I am, which is why I use a freeware alternative.

      I’m sorry, it doesn’t follow. It’s not whether or not Apple has the right to charge for QuickTime Pro, but whether it’s a good idea.

      Bringing in this nonsense about whether someone is cheap to complain about the price policy is bad form. It has nothing to do with it. I’ve already bought my QuickTime Pro license, because I needed it. However, that doesn’t mean it was a worthy purchase. Let’s talk about issues, and stop the insults please.

      Peace,
      Gene

    20. Stephanie says:

      Wow.

      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.

      – Steph

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