There are currently more than a dozen formats for streaming audio over the Web, from widely used formats, such as RealNetworks’ RealAudio, streaming MP3, Macromedia’s Flash and Director Shockwave, Microsoft’s Windows Media, and Apple’s QuickTime, to more recent entries that synchronize sounds with events on a web page, such as RealMedia G2 with SMIL and Beatnik’s Rich Music Format (RMF). Also included are a host of downloadable formats, including Liquid Audio, MP3, MIDI, WAV, and AU.
While the high quality of MP3 has sent shockwaves through the recording industry, streaming formats like RealAudio remain the dominant audio technology on the Web right now. Indeed MP3 is being folded into multimedia streaming formats like QuickTime and Windows Media.
Throughout this book, we take an in-depth look at many of the more prevalent streaming formats. However, in this chapter, we will review all the streaming formats on the Web, including Windows Media and QuickTime, which are not featured in later chapters.
RealMedia is the most widely adopted streaming media format on the Web. Its popularity is due in large part to the fact that it was the first streaming technology on the market. But it’s popular also because of RealNetworks’ laser focus on ease of use, deployment of a wide palette of developer tools, continuous support for the latest multimedia technologies, and support for both Windows and Unix platforms. RealMedia is the format of choice ...