“Oh look — a new gadget from Apple! It’s a … $300 set-top box. (Groan.) I’ll go out on a pretty stout limb today and predict that the combination of Apple’s iTV box and its new downloadable film store won’t have a fraction of the impact on the movie-distribution business that the iPod and 99-cent downloadable songs had on the music industry. The reason goes beyond Steve Jobs’ inability to persuade studios other than Disney (where Jobs is a board member) to accept a significantly lower wholesale price for a download than they charge for a physical product. The main problem here is that Hollywood and movie fans don’t seem ready to make the same leap into the virtual world that the music industry made (albeit reluctantly). They’re too committed to bits encased in plastic. And Apple doesn’t provide a way to convert its downloads into DVDs, at least not yet,” Jon Healey writes for The Los Angeles Times.
“One of the reasons downloadable music took off, I think, is that the shift from CDs to song files improved the user experience in… notable ways,” Healey writes. “Contrast that with the situation in Hollywood, where the shift from DVDs to movie files is yielding few, if any, benefits for viewers. The price for downloadable movies isn’t dramatically better than the price for a disc at Wal-Mart, in part because the studios don’t want to antagonize retailers who are selling so many DVDs. There’s no legal way to put your entire movie collection onto a computer or portable device — DVDs are encrypted, so they can’t be ripped legally the way CDs can. So there’s no way to carry all your movies around with you, nor to mix and match your favorite scenes from a variety of flicks into a customized video (not that you’d want to; unlike a CD, a movie isn’t a collection of severable pieces of entertainment).”
“There’s also what industry insiders call the ‘last 100 feet’ problem, referring to the gap between the typical home’s computer and its living-room TV set. The obvious solution would be to burn the downloaded film onto a DVD,” Healey writes. Apple “showed only one way to get a movie from a Mac or PC to the TV: the new iTV box, which is due early next year. This box will let you beam music and movies securely from a computer to a digital TV set, provided that the TV is equipped with the right kind of digital input (technically, HDMI or DVI with HDCP for those of you who like acronyms). I really like the idea of Apple providing a way to move video securely over a home network — there are plenty of folks who have tried, but I’ve yet to find a living-room device that handled encrypted content really well. Still, given how few people have digital TVs with the right kind of digital inputs, I don’t see an online movie store succeeding in the near term without the ability to burn DVDs.”
MacDailyNews Note: Healey’s wrong: iTV will offer component video and audio for older TVs, too.
Healey asks, “What does the iTV box offer that a DVD player can’t do for significantly less money? Yes, you can use it to watch the copy of “Finding Neverland” that you downloaded for $10, but you could find the film on DVD for about the same price and get more content (Apple’s not including the bonus DVD features in its downloads). It would be a more compelling device if it could let you watch any movie in your collection, but again, you can’t — they’re not on your computer, they’re stuck on DVD. So what unique thrill does Apple provide? Watching two-hour movies on an iPod screen smaller than your credit card?”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: Healey really, really loves plastic discs, doesn’t he? He’s the one who’s “too committed to bits encased in plastic.” Unfortunately Healey’s love of DVDs is hindering his ability to think outside the box. No, Apple doesn’t offer a way to rip DVDs like they do for music CDs (you can thank Hollywood for that situation). So use HandBrake and rip them like the rest of us. Done.
Now you’ve got all of your DVDs ripped onto your Mac or PC hard drive and, with iTV, you’re all set. Also, does Healey grasp that Apple’s 80GB iPod can put 100 hours – or approximately 57 full-length feature films – in your pocket? How much do 57 DVDs weigh? Take your 5.5 ounces iPod to your riend’s house, plug it into the TV with a $19 wire and watch ’til you drop. Isn’t that a notable advantage right there? How about just not having to get up and search through shelves of DVDs to load into your DVD player when you can simply find your film with a few clicks of a remote? Another advantage. Convenience is yet another. Bet you can think up some more. Healey doesn’t get it.
Steve Jobs gives sneak peek of Apple’s “iTV” wireless set-top box:
BusinessWeek: If anyone can make bridge the great divide, Apple can with ‘iTV’ – September 14, 2006
The Beeb asks: Would you buy the Apple iTV? – September 14, 2006
Three markets that are different today after Apple’s ‘It’s Showtime’ event – September 13, 2006
Cramer: Apple’s ‘iTV’ all about ease-of-use; Apple shares are going higher – September 13, 2006
Apple + Living Room = Logical Marriage + Boon for Stockholders – September 13, 2006
The Register: Apple event more like ‘No Show’ than ‘Showtime’ – September 13, 2006
The Telegraph: Steve Jobs’ genius making people desire gadgets for which they have absolutely no use – September 13, 2006
The Guardian: Steve Jobs needs ‘a charisma download, Apple risks being left behind’ – September 13, 2006
Mark Cuban: Things that are special about Apple’s announcements – September 13, 2006
Apple’s ‘iTV’ strategy – September 13, 2006
How will Apple’s ‘iTV’ work? – September 13, 2006
The Observer’s iPod FUD: Apple iPod is ‘wilting away before our eyes’ – September 10, 2006
Apple eyes living room market with device codenamed ‘iTV’ – September 12, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV model ‘the gold standard for the digital home of the future’ – September 12, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV ‘will be hard for other players to match’ – September 12, 2006
Apple gives sneak peek of ‘iTV’ set-top box to debut Q1 2007 (with images) – September 12, 2006
Apple’s QuickTime stream of Steve Jobs special event now live – September 12, 2006
NFL and Apple team up to offer 2006 NFL game highlights via iTunes Store – September 12, 2006