iPod Video: When, not whether.
Apple will try to repeat the success story of the iPod with the iPod Video. Pieces have been falling into their places already. iPhoto and iTunes both have support for QuickTime movies. QuickTime 7 has support for the "highly scalable" H.264 codec, an extension to the MPEG-4 standard. Apple also has the store technology from iTunes.
Critics say that "people don't want to watch video on such small screens". Yet they do. They're converting whole movies and watch them on devices with screens smaller
than the current colour screen iPods. But of course the iPod Video will have a bigger screen than that.
So what will you do this Christmas? You'll think about whether 699 or 799 USD is too much for such a player. You'll probably still buy it. (Remember the iPod? It was considered "much too expensive to be successful". Yeah, right...)
You'll unpack it. Synch it with iTunes. It'll have all your songs, your photos and your movies. Nice, eh? Videocasts are already a feature of iTunes. Music videos are already part of the iTunes Music Store, albeit only on rare occasions. This will change, of course. You'll be able to buy music videos. According to rumours, Apple's in talks with Disney to also license cartoons and other "smaller" video content. While the iPod Video probably won't be the device of choice to view the latest blockbuster movie release, it'll be a fun device to watch a Simpsons episode on. Spend 30 minutes in a train on your way to work? Perfect. Now you can watch the latest news etc. while you're travelling.
But let's not
forget the blockbuster movies. First: Apple's been doing trailers on the QuickTime website for years now. Very successfully so. Where do people find movie trailers? IMDb and QuickTime. But second: The iPod Photo already allows you to connect the device to an external video display. For example a video beamer. The iPod Video will let you watch movies on your home cinema. At a resolution that rivals the DVD. The DRM issues are the same as with music. And Apple's solved those already. (Sure, there have been some problems, but Apple has handled them, and the music industry, which has many a connection to the movie industry, is comfortable with Apple's solution.)
So... You might say: "Apple's not going to do it." - And you might be right. But Apple would be wrong not to do it. The question is the timing, of course. If Apple wants the iPod Video to succeed, it has to wait a little. Until people around the world start to really want
the thing. And that's happening already. PDAs do it. The PlayStation Portable does it. Mobile phones do it. They all suck in one way or another. The worst are the ones that actually try to fight the iPod by adding video capability in order to have a USP over it. Apple's in the right position to do it right the first time. And that's important. Apple certainly did the right thing with the iPod. Who's gonna stop them doing the right thing with the iPod Video? You? I hope not.