New iPod and iTunes movie downloads – is the TV party over?

by Andy Polaine on October 13, 2005

A few months back I wrote a post asking whether Apple were coming to the BitTorrent party and when iTunes Movie Store might open. It now has.

This, it seemed to me (and it wasn’t a particularly hard prediction – I was hardly alone on this), was the obvious answer to the Hollywood bleating about piracy. Make it easy, make it cheap. Make sure the “I can’t be bothered, it’s easier using iTunes” factor kicked in and allow people to buy episodes of TV and movies rather than pirate them. I suggested a price point of $3-4 per DVD. So the $1.99 per video still seems a bit steep given that you might get four or five episodes on a DVD of a series.

This, of course, is one in a continuing series of nails in the TV networks’ coffins as mentioned previously in relation to Mark Pesce’s riffs on the death of TV. So, what’s the difference? Put simple, Apple is a massive brand and they make things easy. Just in time for Christmas too. Obviously this is now in direct competition with the PSP, but Sony have made it relatively expensive and/or difficult to get commercial movies onto your PSP. I haven’t read the tech specs on the iTunes videos though, there is sure to be some annoying DRM going on though.

What is perhaps more exciting is the prospect of being able to share your own content online, an easy way to publish your movies for people to take with them. The short film/animation longtail is a massive untapped market for the mobile scene. Sure, a few phones can carry clips, but none of them have the grace and capacity of the iPod, not to mention the market penetration.

I’m still unconvinced by everything being on one device for the simple reason that no device is perfect at everything. I like separate devices still and, whilst there is an overlap in functionality, it’s useful to be able to choose (not to mention several batteries being better than one).

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