It’s not about portability, it’s about breaking down release windows — or not — and re-engineering the consumer-paid vs. ad-supported nature of Amuhrican TeeVee.
And he quotes Mark:
And this isn’t about watching video on Video iPod screens. Its about downloading video to iTunes software and its competitors, and all the places it does and will reside. All will be playback devices.I expect that either a 2nd tier of pricing will come along from Apple for full screen quality that is designed to play on a TV rather than an iPod or half screen on a Laptop or PC, as competitors compete by enabling higher quality and full screen playback. All of which will further expand the market. The future of network television got immediately brighter yesterday. All because Bob Iger had the brilliance to say yes to giving consumers his content , where , how and when they want to consume it.
Both David and Mark are quite right. The real story of the announcements that Apple made are that consumers now have a choice of downloading legally content that previously they could get only illegally. Just as iTunes Music Store made it simple and easy to download audio programming legally, so Apple has done it again with video.
There’s just a few flies in the ointment, though, that make it less than a foregone conclusion that Apple will win this one. First of all, there’s the quality: while the video content looks pretty decent on the iPod’s screen, there are plenty of reports around the web that it’s not so great when blown up to TV-size. That’s something that Apple must address, and quickly: while most consumers couldn’t tell much difference between AAC at 128k and CD, they’ll easily see the difference between a TV programme recorded on a PVR or computer and the current video that Apple is selling.
Second, Apple needs to make FrontRow available for all Macs, and especially the Mac mini. FrontRow isn’t as comprehensive as Microsoft’s Windows Media Center, but – in standard Apple style – it does what it does very well, and it’s a good “living room distance” interface. Making it standard on all new consumer Macs makes sense – and I see no reason why Apple shouldn’t make it a free download to everyone else.
The third issue that Apple has to deal with is the complexity of the media rights landscape worldwide. Transferring this service to countries outside the US isn’t a simple process of negotiating with the territorial rights holders, as it was with music. For example, suppose Apple wanted to make Lost available in the UK. Lost is made by ABC, but in the UK it’s been bought for broadcast by Channel 4. Channel 4 has bought a package of rights that allows it to broadcast and repeat the programme in the UK, in return for which it pays lots of money and promotes the programme, which in turn will ultimately lead to more sales of DVDs and more revenue for ABC.
Now how does ABC make available Lost to UK audiences? Who gets the money? How much does Channel 4 get, how much does ABC get? You can imagine the negotiations.
Then add in the question of question of residual payments. These are rights that actors get for repeats of shows they’ve been in – and some way would have to be made of accounting for these and distributing monies for downloads. And then there’s the fact that rights holders for TV shows are much more diverse than for music. Whereas, by negotiating with a handful of record companies, you could cover off 80% of music, rights in the TV industry tend to be held by in whole or in part by the production company that made the programme – and there are hundreds of these in the UK alone. Unless Apple looks for a blanket agreement with someone like PACT, it will have major problems with rights negotiations.