“Apple could make [a move] that could well be a game changer: introducing a new version of Apple TV with a built in Blu-ray player,” Saul Hansell writes for The New York Times.
“Separately, neither Apple TV nor Blu-ray players have excited consumers. People have been wary of the fight between Blu-ray and rival HD DVD players, worrying that they will end up owning the disk equivalent of a useless Betamax player. And Apple TV just didn’t seem to have all that many useful things you could do with it,” Hansell writes. “For that matter, online video rentals have been around for several years, by way of Movielink, and also have attracted very few users. The hottest movie download service in fact may be Xbox Live, which makes sense because the game machines are already hooked up to televisions.”
MacDailyNews Take: Hansell has a disconnect here: video rentals via Apple’s market-dominating iTunes many well attract many users. Perhaps the problem with video rentals attracting customers stems more from those offering them and how they’re offering them than from the concept of the video rental model itself?
Hansell continues, “Imagine, however, if Apple introduced this product, say for $399: It plays Blu-ray disks. It lets you buy or rent movies and TV programs from the Internet. It automatically downloads and plays free video (and audio) podcasts. And it brings your iTunes music collection to your living room.”
MacDailyNews Take: Sounds great. Who’s giving Apple the free Blu-ray players? Or, more likely, who’s going to pay Apple to install their Blu-ray players in Apple TVs? $399 for what Hansell describes sounds a bit farfetched right now. And shiny plastic discs, what’s their future, really?
Hansell continues, “This combination of features may be enough of a package that consumers will feel they aren’t taking too much risk buying one. And Apple’s brand may also reassure them. The company is not only the sexiest name in consumer electronics right now, but it also has a respectable track record of being able to negotiate with Hollywood to bring content to its devices. (The first version of Apple TV was a bit of an exception).”
MacDailyNews Take: The problem is with iTunes Store content, not Apple TV, and the fault lies with a skittish Hollywood, not Apple.
Hansell continues, “Apple’s clout might also help tip the now-tied race between Blu-ray and HD DVD.”
MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps Hansell missed the news: HD DVD is the walking dead; there is no “tie” with the superior Blu-ray today and there wasn’t even before Warner yesterday dumped HD DVD to release titles exclusively on Blu-ray.
Hansell continues, “There are two other features of this product I’m imagining I’d like to see, but I think are less likely: streaming video and a commitment to advertiser-supported free video. Apple has focused on video downloads, in part because the quality is better than streaming and they fit into its iTunes model. But the first Apple TV does have streaming for movie trailers. Adding a broader streaming capability would expand programming choices and make the device useful for live and very recent content, like news and sports.”
MacDailyNews Take: Agreed.
Hansell continues, “Such a device could also have a TV tuner, a CableCard slot and act as a digital video recorder. But my guess is that Mr. Jobs would find that this makes it far too complex and he will leave these functions to the cable set top boxes.”
Full article here.