Cringely on Apple video experiment, future 802.11n Apple Video Express, Sony TVs in Apple stores

“So we have don’t have a specific video iPod, but an iPod that does video. We have an Apple deal to distribute TV shows and music videos, but not movies,” Robert X. Cringely writes for PBS. “And the Apple Video Express wireless adapter I predicted is nowhere to be seen yet. Did Apple still change the future of television this week? Probably.”

“It is easy to say that Apple’s deal to distribute a few ABC and Disney TV shows at $1.99 per show was motivated mainly by Disney’s desire to renew its movie distribution agreement with Pixar, Steve Jobs’ other company. Corporate deals aren’t supposed to work that way, of course, with one public company being effectively paid for something another, completely separate, public company has done or will do. But this is Steve Jobs and his rules are different than yours or mine,” Cringely writes.

“The Five TV shows [currently offered via Apple’s iTunes Music Store] are an EXPERIMENT, not a business. The experiment going on here is all on behalf of the major movie studios, the very outfits that haven’t yet signed on to distribute their movies through iTunes. The studios want to see how the market accepts these TV series distributed in this format, whether the ability to download the shows has a material impact on their broadcast viewership (ratings), and most especially whether we see a surge of pirated copies of “Lost” – copies that can be traced back to iTunes distribution,” Cringely writes.

“If the experiment is successful — if these five shows are able to demonstrate incremental revenue increases that don’t harm their existing revenues or pose an unreasonably increased piracy threat — then the studios and other TV networks will sign on and Apple will be in the movie and TV businesses, big time,” Cringely writes. “[Then] we’ll see the movie studios sign on, at which point Apple will finally announce that Video Express, which is the component still required to practically link this new video system to your TV. That rash of products will also include Apple’s much faster 802.11n version of its Airport access point, which suggests that the Video Express will be 802.11n as well, which figures.”

Cringely writes, “And of course that’s when Apple will start selling Sony flat panel TVs in its stores. I don’t think Apple will do its own brand of TVs like Gateway, Dell, and HP have done. They’ll stick with Sony, which makes sense for a ton of reasons including undermining any thought Sony might have to competing with Apple in the video distribution business.”

Full article here.

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15 Comments

  1. “And of course that’s when Apple will start selling Sony flat panel TVs in its stores. I don’t think Apple will do its own brand of TVs like Gateway, Dell, and HP have done. They’ll stick with Sony, which makes sense for a ton of reasons including undermining any thought Sony might have to competing with Apple in the video distribution business.”

    Or…Apple will save the valuable (and in some cases expensive) retail space and direct their cutomers to the nearest Circuit City (or other electronics dealer of your choice) for a TV.

  2. Good article. Except the part about stocking Sony TVs. A typical mini store can probably stock 2 TVs. The ones I’ve been to hardly have any 23″ or 30″ LCDs as it is. I think they’ll more likely show them on the sales floor as sort of “co-marketing” with Sony instead of actually selling them. Also, if the videos are to remain at the current resolution, 802.11g should suffice. If they go to n, then it means better videos has to be on the way. What if the “Video Express” contains a small HDD that caches the movies? That would be REALLY interesting…

    MW: church. Apple is taking the competition to church.

  3. Will iTunes video scale up to a large screen TV without showing pixeling?

    I know H264 is good, but is it that good?

    With HDTV gaining traction, what resolution of iTune video be required to look good there?

    To me, the video iPod and iTunes are an experiment and will require a few tweaks before it becomes really useful for TV viewing.

  4. Well, there’s gonna be content. Lots of it.

    In fact, I believe that massive content in many entertainment genres is going to start appearing everywhere on the net, and that some of it is even going to be DRMed for single play (teaser) usage. Speaking of which, right now there is a full length Gorillaz vingle for Feel Good, Inc up in Quicktime at Virginrecords.net that I was able to copy to my hard drive with QuickTime Pro … but then it would only play once, no matter whether I opened the copy in QuickTime or opened it in iTunes. Anybody else have similar experiences?

    http://promo.virginrecords.net/artists/gorillaz/quicktime/small.php

  5. “Cringely’s a dude. Yes it’s all speculation, but it’s with insight and thought. Rob Enderle may one day be worthy to lick his boots.” – Normie Kwong

    Most likely Enderle may one day be able to carry Cringley’s jock strap.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”cheese” style=”border:0;” />

  6. apple stores will likely drop ship the lcd sony tv’s to your house and set it up fro free, just like if you bought one from crutchfield’s. there is plenty of margin in those to do that. anyway, you would have to bring all your frat friends to the apple store to help you carry it to your car! definitely will be on prominent display (that’s the whole idea of the apple stores-to help people visualize the possible when they cannot do it on their own).

    don’t be disappointed by the pixelation when expanded. it’s just the way they are compressed. not intended to give you a “broadcast quality” picture. that will come later when the ecosystem to handle the bandwidth is marketed. this is just a teaser folks! or maybe a trailer is more appropriate.

  7. With all this technology introduced to this 5th Generation iPod, why no new games on this device???? Can’t Apple make a deal with Atari or someone to distribute some of their games???? What’s the deal with dat??

  8. “That rash of products will also include Apple’s much faster 802.11n version of its Airport access point, which suggests that the Video Express will be 802.11n as well, which figures.”

    I want this Oompaloompa NOW

  9. I cannot go for the current itunes offerings of TV shows because it is not HD. I have spent too much time and money on my HD projector setup to invest in old formatted TV programming. Once this “experiment” proves to be worth while, hopefully Apple will start selling HD versions… even if it is a couple bucks more. 3.99 would be acceptable to me for HD commercial free TV shows. Has to be 1080i or 1080p though. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

    Now, if I can just get my local Fox station to pull their heads out of their arses and start HD broadcasts…. like ABC and CBS do around here (central WI) I will be happy camper.

    The Dude abides.

  10. Neil,
    People misunderstand “H.264 scales well”. It’s the standard not actual files. It works well for anything from cellphone size resolution to HD resolution. 320×240 is still 320×240. (though some 320×240’s are better than others)

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