In a few days at Macworld Expo we'll learn more about how Mr. Options -- I mean Jobs -- plans to revolutionize
the video download business with the device that will soon be formerly known as the iTV.
As I said in September
, I'm not that high on the prospects that this device can vastly grow the market for video downloads unless it can:
a) work with PCs and Macs equally well
b) allow online video content -- from the web, TV shows and movies -- to be automatically saved and easily streamed for broadcast to the TV
c) embraces the "long tail" of video content
I'm doubtful that the PC functionality would ever be as good as the Macintosh, and that obviously is the lion's share of the audience. Like all of the other movie download services, you aren't going to win users by offering the same 100 movies that you can get from Blockbuster or video on demand because those models are well entrenched and easy to use.
If Apple can get a breadth of movie content at a price that beats NetFlix, then they may have a chance. They have to combine that with vlogs, Internet-based TV shows, and user generated videos that can be subscribed to by RSS.
Apple does have the chops in simplifying networking, at least on Macs, and that is probably its greatest strength in challenging Microsoft/Intel in the PC home entertainment space.
Just as I expected, Amazon (which is no Apple when it comes to designing digital services) has not had great success with its video download service. Intel and CinemaNow will be showing off a new service at CES that simplifies burning DVDs from downloads, and the companies also say they are coming up with a simpler way to share movies with connected home devices, putting them squarely in a battle with Apple.
As Neoseeker points out, things are still too complex for most folks. It's difficult for consumers to burn downloads onto DVD (save for a few titles on CinemaNow), and it's tricky for all but the most tech-savvy to watch downloads on a TV... As a result, studio sources say, Amazon.com digital download sales have been as slow as at other Web sites -- under 100 downloads per day for some titles
I, and many other consumers, won't be happy until we can order movies online and watch video from our RSS feeds on TV just as easily as we use a TiVo. I also would prefer a subscription model, ala NetFlix and now Blockbuster. Charge me $24.99 per month for up to 10 movie downloads of my choice, and I'll sign up today.