Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An interface for the iPod

Will Apple adopt the recently minted CEA-2017 standard for linking portable media players to docking stations, car audio systems and the rest of the digital media world? That's the question now that the Consumer Electronics Association has officially put the new spec out.

CEA-2017 defines "electrical and mechanical properties for a connector that will pass audio, video and associated metadata signals, control signals, and power between portable electronic devices and in home and in vehicle audio/video systems." Great! Consumers would love universal docking stations and links to cars that don't require specific vendor-to-vendor collaborations.

But given its tendency to live quite comfortably behind its walled garden, I am skeptical Apple will support this new standard. I am still trying to find out if the company that dominates the MP3 space took part in the standard effort and what if any opinion it has about it, so stay tuned.

Interestingly, a preview of the CEA spec references among other things Microsoft's Media Transport Protocol at the heart of its new application programming interface for linking Vista to cellphones, portable media players and digital still cameras. At a presentation at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference where I am camped out this week, Microsoft said it is making MTP an open standard through the USB Implementer's Forum.

Perhaps once again the big fat monopoly in Redmond will prove to be more open that those creative crazies in Cupertino.

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