Thursday, September 2, 2010

Apple’s Trouble With TV

John Siracusa:

Any living room “solution” that doesn’t offer a way to view that hot serial drama on the night it airs or a favorite soap opera or that obscure cooking reality show your dad is obsessed with will never be a comprehensive solution. Instead, it just adds to the giant mess hanging off the back of the TV: another expense, another device, another remote, another headache.

There’s far too little content compared with cable/satellite or Netflix, and the video quality is 720p, and then only nominally. None of this is necessarily Apple’s fault, but it’s Apple TV’s problem. I think they’re on the right track with streaming rentals, though. I never wanted to “buy” large DRM-encoded files and then worry about backing them up and syncing them.

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If the Apple board was thinking correctly, they'd buy Amazon, and have Jeff Bezos run the combined company. If it worked for Apple and NeXT, it could work for Apple and Amazon.

With a customer focused CEO, Apple could make this Michael Gartenberg tweet from today come true:

Apple and Google taking two different approaches. Google wants input one. Will never get it. Apple wants input two and might.

The leverage of the iOS installed base gives Apple a brief window of opportunity here. The killer app for Apple TV is AirPlay. That's what is going to moves boatloads of Apple TV's under consumers' televisions. And if Apple were to take Siracusa's advice and "accept and absorb all available content by any means necessary", they could actually get input two before anyone knew what happened.

But instead, Apple's CEO wants to own the video services middleman market. And that's not going to happen.

By the time Steve-o learns "wisdom" on this particular topic, streaming services will be built into new TV's, and Apple's window of opportunity will be gone forever.

"I never wanted to “buy” large DRM-encoded files and then worry about backing them up and syncing them."

Worth noting how Amazon handles this dilemma:

When you "buy" large DRM-encoded files from Amazon, your ownership rights allow you to locally delete the files, and then re-download them from Amazon's servers whenever you want, however many times you want. (This is true for video, audio, and books.) No backing up or syncing is ever necessary. You just have to trust in Amazon being stable and non-evil, which I essentially do.

I've been a happy Amazon VOD consumer for a while now. The large files get quickly downloaded to my TiVo, get deleted by me when I need hard drive space, and can be quickly re-downloaded three months later for free if I want to watch them again. It's obviously not as sane a long-term purchase method as Blu-Ray, but it's cheaper, and the allure of VOD is sometimes well worth the drawbacks.

Thanks for the tip; I should check that out. Amazon’s selection looks pretty good, and they offer 1080i for TiVo. It’s also a plus to be able to browse from the Web rather than iTunes.

netflix is 720 res as well.....

"netflix is 720 res as well....."

Well, only a tiny fraction of the Netflix library is available in 720p.

Most of the library is low-res, and the bulk of their current and future acquisition spending is dedicated to low-res streaming rights.

Don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of Netflix, a current subscriber, and can find things to watch there in 720p, mostly because I like indie, foreign, and documentary films. But the bulk of the stuff they've got available for streaming is not 720p, and that is likely to continue into the foreseeable future.

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