iTunes Video Store
iTunes Video Store
2005-10-14 13:26:17 by Andrew Hitchcock G+
As I'm sure you have heard, Apple held a special event on Wednesday where they announced the iPod capable of playing video and a new video section of the iTunes Music Store. As an Apple, iPod, and iTMS user (as well as HD junky), I have some thoughts on this. First, what the hell where they thinking upping the version number again? iTunes 6? This is one of the worst examples of version number inflation ever. Wasn't that one of the complaints of AOL?

Anyway, I think this is a big step forward. Steve had already mentioned the $1.99 price point of music videos when he said they were going to sell TV shows. I was very afraid that they would price the TV shows too high. Fortunately, TV shows have the same $1.99 price. At this price you could buy seven shows per week and it would still be cheaper than cable (I believe). What about shows that air almost daily, like Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Daily Show? At this price, it would take $30-$40/month to watch them. As they expand their service, I hope they take this into account.

One of the biggest advantages hasn't been widely published: no branding. These days, it is despicable how much content is lost in the audio and video. We have the permanent channel brand, the more and more common rating brand (aka, TV-14), and the annoying as all hell advertisements. The branded advertisements have gotten out of control; they can take up to a 1/3 of the screen at any time with distracting animation and many have audio! What the hell is this? They are destroying our content. Finally, there are the occasional scrolling public service announcements. Branding is a big reason I'm not getting cable in my apartment. Even though I'm not getting cable, I don't plan on using the TV show store in its current form at all. Why? Resolution. I've been wishing for HD optical discs for a number of years. My mom mentioned that she tries to avoid SD content these days, because it looks so much worse than HD. With a huge shift to HD in the coming years, I don't plan on buying content that is 1/4 the resolution of SD content. These postage stamp sized videos are 1/27 the resolution of what I want to be watching. You can call me elitist, but I enjoy the HD. Hell, before most content was in HD, I'd watch boring shows just to enjoy the high definition. In the beginning, I even resorted to the local news!

Front Row looks pretty neat, but is somewhat limited on the computer screen. My parents (who will likely be buying an iMac this weekend) do not want to watch movies or TV shows on the computer. Since you can't burn your purchases to DVD, they can't watch it on TV either (without having the computer in an awkward spot near the home theatre). What Apple really needs now is a new Airport Express that supports video (high definition, of course) and can forward the remote control back to the computer in another room. I'm convinced my family would buy that.

I may seem critical, but I think this has lots of potential and I want to see Apple get it right from the beginning. I love the idea of buying and downloading TV shows, but the resolution just isn't there yet; I'm still sticking with DVDs. Finally, I'm really impressed that Disney has signed on to this; this is a show of good faith by Iger. Hopefully this is the first sign that Disney has reached a turning point after Eisner left.
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