Apple made some important announcements today. While the analysts may poo-poo them in some respects, they're first steps toward a bigger picture that will make a difference in the long run.
First is the new iPod. The video thing is certainly the gee-whiz feature, but I think in the formal announcement it was really emphasized just the right amount. It's not the ultimate killer application, and I don't think anyone expects it to be. The point is really that it's a forward step in the storage and distribution of video. Would I buy the first season of Lost on iTunes for $35 to watch on my computer and iPod? At that price, maybe, especially if I do a lot of flying. There is a market, even if it's small to start with.
They're also making a huge statement with Front Row, the media app included with the new iMac. Along with its remote control, it does music, video, photos and DVD's better than anything else out there. There's no contest at all. They've gotten it right in their first try. It's simple, easy, and awesome.
Conspicuously missing is some kind of DVR capability, but you can be almost entirely sure they haven't gone there yet for two reasons. The first is that tuning devices (cable boxes, satellite receivers, HD tuners, etc.) still suck in terms of integration to any external device. The second thing is that I believe we aren't all that far away from seeing a decline in traditional video programming distribution. IP distribution is already here today among the geeks. I give ABC a lot of credit for having the courage to experiment with Apple on the distribution of their highest rated shows.
Apple is doing something elegant and again pressing the technology in a way that makes sense. Say what you will about Jobs, but he's the only executive on the planet that right now bridges the gap between media companies and tech companies. Everyone else is speaking different languages. Hollywood in particular is hopelessly lost, fighting over HD formats that ultimately will go the way CD's are going.
These are very exciting times for technology and media junkies.