Telestream Lets Windows Media Flow Into Mac Platform
For some Mac users, the letters "WMV" translate into "don't even bother downloading this video from our site; it's just not going to work." Telestream, however, may offer those users some relief. The company offers Flip4Mac, which allows Mac mavens to import, export and play Windows media video files on their preferred platform.
06/29/09 4:00 AM PT
It took Telestream six years after its founding in 1998 to cook up an Apple application, but some 15 million Mac owners are glad it did.
That first product, Flip4Mac, which allowed Mac users to import, export and play Windows media video (WMV) files on their Apple machines, not only made Nevada City, Calif.-based Telestream a shining star in Apple's constellation, but it also marked a new area of business for the company.
Prior to the introduction of Fip4Mac, Telestream concentrated on moving media files over the Internet. It targeted media workflow for broadcasters, advertising agencies and production houses. They had to share content, and the way they were doing it was through shipping tapes to each other.
"We became pioneers of shipping high-quality content over the Internet," Telestream CEO and Cofounder Dan Castles told MacNewsWorld.
The high-end professional market still accounts for two-thirds of Telestream's customer base, but since it started beefing up its desktop line four years ago, its broadened its reach to the point where one-third of its customers are desktop users -- users like Marshall Clow, a programmer in San Diego, Calif.
A common problem facing online video viewers drew Clow to Flip4Mac.
"There were a bunch of videos out there, including some of my niece, that were put out on Web pages in Windows media, and I wanted to watch them," he told MacNewsWorld.
"I have a niece that plays basketball and some online news sites showed some of her games and interviewed her a couple of times," he explained.
"This was an easy solution," he added. "The only hassle was every now and then when I tried to use it, I'd get a little pop-up saying, 'Your copy of Flip4Mac is out of date. Go here to update it.'"
Microsoft Builds Good Will
As the company's market matured, it became apparent that there was a crying need for compatibility of Microsoft technologies directly on the Mac platform, according to Telestream CTO and co-founder Shawn Carnahan.
"The Mac has always been very relevant in the creative and video production space," he told MacNewsWorld, "and at the time, there was a lot of usage of Windows media for things like digital dailies. A lot of people consuming that media were on Mac platforms, but they didn't have good support for Windows media."
Microsoft, too, recognized the value of Telestream's Mac application, and in 2006, it began distributing Flip4Mac Windows Media Components for QuickTime. That quickly grew the user base for the program into the millions, and to date, downloads of the application have exceeded 15 million.
Microsoft's move appears to have kindled some good will among Apple stalwarts who ordinarily have nothing but the opposite for the folks in Redmond.
"Since Microsoft is depending on a third party product to provide Windows Media functionality to the Mac, it reduces the likelihood of Microsoft doing funky proprietary things with their file formats," Flip4Mac user Jon Gardner, a consultant in Bryan, Texas, told MacNewsWorld.
Microsoft is "more likely to stick with 'open' formats, or at least published formats -- which is a good thing," he reasoned.
"Microsoft's need for Flip4Mac also underscores the fact that QuickTime provides the better cross-platform media solution -- it works the same on Mac or Windows," he added. "As an Apple professional, I appreciate that."
Adding Apps Through Acquisition
Telestream has expanded its Mac presence through both home-grown applications and by buying other companies.
In 2006, it bought Popwire. That firm's technology was leveraged to create Telestream's Episode line of applications. They permit a user to import and export a wide range of file formats and repurpose them for viewing on the Web, DVDs and on mobile and portable devices.
In 2008, it bought Vara Software. That added to the Telestream lineup three new products--Wirecast, ScreenFlow and VideoCue--which support webcasting, screencasting and rich media presentations.
"As our last two acquisitions show, the Mac community is very important to us, and we're investing a lot of development dollars on products that address Mac-centric workflows and will continue to do so," CEO Castles observed.
The company, he maintained, will continue to be important to Macophiles because it provides them with important tools for dealing with heterogeneous content.
"We provide all the tools to make the creative work that Mac users do reach a wider audience," he added. "So much of the audience that they're trying to reach is in Windows and other environments and we help bridge that gap."