Wednesday, October 19, 2005
How Apple Missed the Target on iPod/iTunes Video
By now we've all heard of the iPod with video, and likely you've also heard of the accompanying iTunes upgrade which allows users to also download video content (for a fee). Sounds like a killer app for a killer product eh?
Why not? Well it's got all the markings of a winner: Cool technology, Cool content (a tonne of music videos, and ABC Programs like Lost and Desperate Housewives), and all the Cool cache that comes with the iPod, but in trying to be everything to everyone it's not being valuable to anyone.
There are two users of this sort of video download service, those who will buy the new iPod and watch shows on the go, and those that will download the shows to watch in the comfort of their own home. Those who want to see them on their computer screen (or on their media center equiped TV) were no doubt salivating at the prospect of seeing their favourite serialized shows without having to stay at home on the appropriate night and sit through all the annoying commercials (not everyone has a PVR or the desire to download pirated videos online). This new iTunes service should also let users catch up on shows they may have missed, or let them get into a series even though it's well along (trust me, Lost makes little sense if you haven't seen it from the beginning).
Don't get too excited home viewers. The iTunes service will only let you download ridiculously poor versions of the video file at half the resolution of a normat TV. Nowhere near the DVD quality you could get if you spent the same amount on the DVD box set (downloads are $2, around 24 episodes in a season, so it's assumed you could buy the DVD set for under $48), and certainly not even close to HD, even though it's been proven over and over again that people are more than willing to pay for the quality. The television content that is currently being offered is the same content that you'd want to see on a larger screen (Intense action, lush tropical sets, Terri Hatcher) but Apple has killed that dream.
The other userr is the kind of person who will own an iPod Video and watch shows on the go (on the bus, between classes, during boring meetings, etc). These are they kinds of people that are totally attached to their iPods (I'm one of them). An episode a week (45minutes without commercials) just isn't going to cut it.
Watching video on the iPod certainly won't replace TV (like the selection of shows leads you to believe) but it will serve as an attachment to the airwaves when you can't be in front of a television. How about putting content online that won't be syndicated, released on DVD, or repeated? What if people who don't stay up late but still like Conan O'Brien could catch his show at their convenience? Late night talk shows aren't syndicated, so once they're aired there's currently no more revenue generated from them for the networks (sadly, for ABC this only goes for Jimmy Kimmel Live, so there's likely little revenue even when they first broadcast it). How about "Entertainment Tonight" or "Extra" for those who want to keeep up on their celebrity news, or "The Daily Show" for those who need their fake news fix but don't get Comedy Central?
This same sort of thing could apply to sports highlights. The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames played the other day and the Flames Goaltender Mike Kiprusoff made one of the most amazing saves of the last decades to save the game for his team. Fortunately I saw the game live, but any fans who live in the 97% of North America where the game wasn't broadcast would have had to rely on an NHL.com article that just said "Kiprusoff was at his best". How about letting me download sporting hightlights for the teams I love but aren't living in their market?
There are a lot of cool things about Apples latest foray into video, and I'm sure there's more on the horizon, but in it's first incarnation it seems like Apple has uncharacteristically missed the mark.
posted by sAFETY at 11:28 AM