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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What's Wrong With AppleTV's Market Position

I cracked this out of another article because I thought it should be highlighted:

The AppleTV is basically a nice interface for iTunes content - I bought one, I like it, I even have another blog all about it - AppleTVhacker.com. But it isn't truly a replacement for a DVD player at any resolution. I see the ability to play downloaded TV shows as a bonus feature, the downloaded movies don't look as good as DVDs (but WILL play back on iPods & computers, so that is bonus), and the ability to see my pictures in high def on the screen is also a bonus. But in the end, I see it as a supplement to, not a replacement for, a high def DVD player (or even a regular DVD player). If version 2 had an optical media slot and played 1080i footage at full res, we'd be talkin'.

I think Apple has lost a significant market advantage, however, in that they STILL don't have downloadable high def movies - check out this article on the 10 minute 720p Ratatoille - download and watch it, and imagine that quality on your HDTV. That plays, right now, on my AppleTV. But I can't buy movies that resolution and quality. Get with it Apple! At $300 to play downloadable 720p movies, that'd be a viable contender against $500+ HD DVD & Blu-ray players.

But now that there are options that look better and cost LESS than AppleTV (under $300 for Toshiba HD-A2), with a MUCH wider range of movies...AppleTV's window narrows quickly unless they can get LOTS more content available for sale, and also at higher resolution to make a compelling case. I've bought 3 or 4 movies online, mostly to doodle with or so my neice/nephew can watch, but that's about it - I don't plan on buying any more. I DO buy TV shows (season pass to Lost, episodes I missed of Battlestar Galactica). YES, I could download high def freebies via BitTorrent, but that's more time and hassle than I want to deal with - and then they wouldn't play back on my HDTV via AppleTV anyway, which was the point. Feh.

IF Apple were to be able to:
-get MANY more studios and movies available to download
-AND get them available as 720p as an option

THEN AppleTV could have some more relevance. Of course, that isn't entirely up to Apple, the studios have to release the content in those formats.

But in terms of competing in terms of image quality, we'll have to wait for some future version - according to Apple, this unit can't do 720p at any better than 25fps - so that rules out "true" HD res for broadcast TV shot at other than 24p.

AppleTV 2.0 - 1080p/i capable, 120 & 250 GB drives, can purchase straight from the TV with an iTunes account (that last could be done today with software updates).

16 comments:

Björn said...

I think it's not only a problem of missing high def movies. It's also a problem of missing movies and tv shows outside the US. I simply do not have the possibility to buy movies or tv shows from the iTunes store here in Germany.

GJD said...

Ditto Björn's comment, I'm in the UK.

But I don't think Apple is really to blame on this, if they could have, I'm sure they would have made content available internationally. I suspect that the international broadcast deals the US networks have for their shows preclude them from offering the shows to rival distributors (ie iTMS) in some areas.

HD downloads on the scale of iTMS would require serious bandwidth, and that's something I think both Apple and US broadband providers will be looking carefully right now. How does the 360 HD download service perform?

witzke said...

things I hate about my appleTV;

can't purchase movies from the trailer preview!?
season downloads are not in order!
appletv export option has no options!
can't loop a movie ( trade show prez... must hit play to play again )
no HD movies yet from itunes

things I love about my appleTV;

can show off my HD footage easily
archive movies for anytime viewing
portable ( appleTV + 720p projector = instant theater in a parking lot! )
keeps my coffee warm

Anonymous said...

I love my appleTV. HD or not, is hardly a point. Most of my stuff i download for free, and convert it realy quick with elgato's turbo264. I use itunes to organise all the stuff i have. So, whats missing ? Nothing.

Sure, itunes could sell better quality stuff, but being in europe itunes doesnt sell video's anyway jet. But i do like it to show others what i've downloaded, show foto's in HD quality and play music and vodcast with ease. And thats what it does.

Steve Sabol said...

Is the lack of HD movies in iTunes a chicken/egg thing? Will the movie studios, wary of being at Steve Jobs' mercy the (perceived?) way the music industry is, be willing to give Apple HD movies, pissing off their retail partners like Walmart and Target, without a guaranteed market? Or will the studios wait until more AppleTVs are sold to justify potentially upsetting the Walmarts of the world? But will consumers buy a device that (essentially) requires an HD TV when there is no HD content?

Luckily, my 27" tubeTV had componant video so I have an AppleTV on it and I don't notice any quality issues.

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