Some more iPod Video Thoughts

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By madmaxmedia
October 5, 2005

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1. Time-shifting. TiVo enabled time shifting of television shows; podcasts enabled time shifting of audio broadcasts. The iPod Video will have these features, and enable time shifting of additional video content. Not just video podcasts, but all sorts of Internet content. Anytime you play a streaming QuickTime video on a web site, there could be a button to 'Send to iPod', including iFilm content.

2. Content. This will go way beyond buying music videos and free movie trailers. A recent CNN interview with John Stewart drew a TV audience of 150,000, but received 3.24 million iFilm views, and millions of more untracked downloads/torrents.

1-time only broadcasting is a user-unfriendly method of distribution that helps neither the broadcaster, nor the audience. There is a degree of safety and security that the broadcast industry has with it. Steve Jobs is exactly the right guy to bridge broadcast content with digital downloading, as he did with the iTunes store.

I also mentioned earlier that UPN is streaming the entire first episode of the new Chris Rock sitcom. You can be certain that other such content will be available on iTunes (or whatever you want to call it now.)

3. DRM is key to making content providers feel warm and safe. Some DRM will limit content to a single iPod; more stringent DRM will not only do this, but also have an expiration date. If it's done reasonably, I don't think it will be a big turnoff. For example, HBO could make an episode of the Sopranos available, but only play for 30 days.

DRM can be broken, but providing DRM content to millions of viewers is far better than having these viewers convert/download the same content without any DRM (which is easily done.)

4. Wireless. Although I have my concerns about battery life, the more I think about a wifi-enabled iPod Video and video-enabled Airport Express, the more it makes sense. This is a relatively high-margin product anyways, and making the overall user experience as good as possible would help jump start sales and overall adoption. They need to prime the pump so that content providers will know that there's a captive audience out there looking for content.

5. This will be a nice promotional tool for QuickTime vs. Real and WMV. QuickTime content will be easily distributed to iPod Video, other formats will not (unless first converted.)

6. Context. The overall goal of the iPod Video is not to make video the 'next big thing', it's to provide an additional experience to existing iPods, thus increasing sales and increasing competitive advantage over other large-capacity players. The full-sized iPods do not sell as well as the smaller form factor, and needs a refresh. Simply adding more capacity gives people exactly what they don't need (they've already chosen price and size over total capacity.)

No other player maker can present a complete package that covers the hardware, software, and content and tie it all together like Apple. Microsoft actually had a chance since they were involved in the first crop of video players, but surprisingly never considered the content. That's like inventing and introducing cars without figuring out how customers are going to buy the gasoline.

If Apple does indeed introduce an iPod Video on Tuesday, the hardware will almost be an afterthought. The major (and mostly unexpected) part of the presentation will be about the content.

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