With its announcement today of a 24-inch iMac and the much-rumoured announcement next week of an iTunes Movie Store and secret wireless video streaming device, Apple is working hard at killing the myth of mobile video.
This runs contrary to the beliefs and business direction of pretty much every other company in the mobile electronics industry, and it’s a blow to the concept of a dedicated “video iPod”.
I gotta go with Apple on this one, though. I used to think mobile video was the next killer app for consumer electronics. However, my experience with devices like the Sony PSP and even the current generation of video-enabled iPods has dampened my enthusiasm. Whereas mobile music, a la the iPod, was functionally needed by a broad user base, mobile video is merely gee-whiz nifty and has only niche applications.
I’m more convinced that the true target of internet-delivered movies will be the living room. You can see this strategy beginning to form in Apple’s new big-daddy iMac and the upcoming iTunes movie store and a much-rumoured “video streaming” device that’s been top-secret in Apple’s R&D labs for over a year.
The iTunes Movie Store will be the “right” way for movies to be delivered. Apple has proven they’re the best at marketing and delivering digital media by making it easy and quick for consumers to access it and buy it. Compare that the the pain and agony of dealing with other currently available movie delivery services and you can start to understand why it’s no big deal that Apple’s a bit late to this party: they have the brand (iTunes) and they’ve spent more time tweaking their end product to perfection.
So what’s this company up to?
Apple’s solution will permit you to purchase your movies on your Mac and leave them there. Then you’ll buy their super-secret (and probably super-inexpensive) video streaming device (probably a new generation Airport Express) and plug it into your TV or video receiver. Then you’ll sit on your couch and use your remote to browse the movies on your Mac, via the streaming device, and watch them.
Of course, you can also sync the movies up with your iPod, and I’m sure Apple will release a “video iPod” at some point. But the success of on-demand video lies in people’s homes, not their pockets.