A friend told me recently that he does not like iTunes and iPods because it uses non-standard formats.  A little research later and here’s my response ( I borrowed heavily from Wikipedia.com ).

.MP4 and .M4V, AAC are the video formats Apple co-developed with Microsoft and others back starting back in 1997.  AAC ( also used in iTunes, RIM BlackBerry, Sony Ericson Phones, Zen and other MP3 players ) is also a standard format.  So when he says iTunes does not use standard formats he is really saying “iTunes does not use a format I like”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP4
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H.264/MPEG-4_AVC
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Audio_Coding

MPEG-4 Part 14 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Compatible software

Compatible hardware

AAC compatible devices and software.

Other Portable Players

Mobile phones

For a number of years, many mobile phones from manufacturers such as Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, BenQ-Siemens and Philips have supported AAC playback. The first such phone was the Nokia 5510 released in 2002 which also plays MP3s. However this phone was a commercial failure and such phones with integrated music players did not gain mainstream popularity until 2005 when the trend of having AAC as well as MP3 support continued. Most new smartphones and music-themed phones support playback of these formats.

  • Sony Ericsson phones support various AAC formats in MP4 container. AAC-LC is supported in all phones beginning with K700, phones beginning with W550 have support of HE-AAC. The latest devices such as the P990, K610, W890i and later support HE-AAC v2.
  • Nokia XpressMusic and other new generation Nokia multimedia phones: also support AAC format.
  • BlackBerry: RIM’s latest series of Smartphones such as the 8100 (“Pearl”) and 8800 support AAC.
  • Apple‘s iPhone supports AAC and FairPlay protected AAC files used as the default encoding format in the iTunes store.

Other devices

  • Palm OS PDAs: Many Palm OS based PDAs and smartphones can play AAC and HE-AAC with the 3rd party software Pocket Tunes. Version 4.0, released in December 2006, added support for native AAC and HE-AAC files. The AAC codec for TCPMP, a popular video player, was withdrawn after version 0.66 due to patent issues, but can still be downloaded from sites other than corecodec.org. CorePlayer, the commercial follow-on to TCPMP, includes AAC support. Other PalmOS programs supporting AAC include Kinoma Player and AeroPlayer.
  • Microsoft Windows Mobile platforms support AAC either by the native Windows Media Player or by third-party products (TCPMP, CorePlayer)
  • Epson supports AAC playback in the P-2000 and P-4000 Multimedia/Photo Storage Viewers. This support is not available with their older models, however.
  • Vosonic supports AAC recording and playback in the VP8350, VP8360 and VP8390 MultiMedia Viewers.
  • The Sony Reader portable eBook plays M4A files containing AAC, and displays metadata created by iTunes. Other Sony products, including the A and E series Network Walkmans, support AAC with firmware updates (released May 2006) while the S series supports it out of the box.
  • The Sonos Digital Media Player supports playback of AAC files.
  • The Roku SoundBridge network audio player supports playback of AAC encoded files.
  • The Xbox 360 supports streaming of AAC through the Zune software, and off supported iPods connected through the USB port
  • The Wii video game console supports AAC files through version 1.1 of the Photo Channel as of December 11, 2007. All AAC profiles and bitrates are supported as long as it is in the .m4a file extension. This update removed MP3 compatibility, but users who have installed this may freely downgrade to the old version if they wish.[10]

Software

The Rockbox Open source firmware (available for multiple portable players) also offers support for AAC to varying degrees, depending on the model of player and the AAC profile.

Optional iPod Support (playback of unprotected AAC files) for the Xbox 360 is available as a free download from Xbox Live.[11]

Other software media players

Almost all current computer media players include built-in decoders for AAC, or can utilize a library to decode it. On Microsoft Windows, DirectShow can be utilized this way with the corresponding filters to enable AAC playback in any DirectShow based player. Software player applications of particular note include:

  • ConvertDirect.com serves AAC Files using Youtube Video conversion. It converts Youtube video to AACs.