Steve Jobs did his MacWorld rollout today and announced AppleTV and the long anticipated iPhone. Right now the iPhone is getting all the headlines and buzz and I understand that. It’s really just plain cool and sure to trigger technolust in anyone with working frontal lobe functions.
1) iPhone Is Just A Really Nice Cell Phone
I said really nice - but that’s all it is, 200 patents or not. I’ll even say it’s the Best Cell Phone Ever. The interface and the design are great in the way we’d expect from Apple 2007 but the functionality right now is more or less what you can do with a nice cellphone today. You can do email, surf the web, listen to MP3s, take pictures and even make phone calls on your phone today with a Blackjack or Q or Treo.
2) The iPhone Will Be All About Early Adopters Until 2009
Shipping in June of this year means that the by around Christmas 2008 / Macworld 2009 we’ll see the cheaper, even cooler, smaller, more battery life, more features, better interface, comes in 5 colors version of the iPhone. That’s about the time it will really explode in the marketplace. (And no, that’s a prediction about more battery troubles.) In the meantime, it’s going to be the cool tech toy of this summer. I won’t be able to afford one and if you get one I’ll ask to look it and secretly hate you. But it’s early for it to really shake up society. Give it a couple of years.
3) The Time Is Right For AppleTV
2006 was the year of web video. You know this so I won’t mention YouTube and Battlestar Galactica / The Office on iTunes and LonelyGirl15 and bands on treadmills and all the other stuff I really promise not to mention.
The problem is - and I know you know this too - watching video on a computer isn’t the same as kicking back on your sofa or strategically placed giant beanbag. I could never bring myself to download a full length movie on iTunes because I don’t want to watch it on my computer. AppleTV lets me sit on the couch, as God intended.
3) AppleTV Could Do For Web Video What The iPod Did For MP3s
But I hear you saying - there are already ways to play internet video on a TV. Hook up your video card or buy another settop box that does more or less the same thing. Yes, I know but you can round the number of people actually doing that today to zero. It’s just not a market.
The big thing I think Apple brings to the table is the same thing they bought when they introduced the iPod to a world that already had MP3 players; an integrated, easy way to get content onto the box. The iTunes factor is probably going to be the key to breaking this market wide open.
Once it’s broken open, then non-iTunes content has a new place to go. The iPod got people started downloading music from iTunes but a lot of users branched out into other services like Podcasts, Audible.com and music from cheaper / more interesting services like eMusic.com.
4) AppleTV Is To The Internet As Tivo Is To Television Networks
The user experience of AppleTV is a lot like Tivo. You sit down after a hard day’s work and there’s stuff for you to watch. You click through a list, pick something and watch it until you get bored or it’s over. The difference right now (and this will converge, of course) is that AppleTV is hooked to the internet and Tivo is hooked to what TV networks play.
5) Points 2 And 3 And 4 Have Huge Implications For Film And Video Producers
This blog is for artists and filmmakers, so here’s where you come in. Right now, today, you can make a TV show or movie that would look good on a TV but you can’t upload to CBS or HBO or SciFi or The Food Network, can you? (If you can, please email me.) But you can upload it to the internet. And then people with AppleTV can watch your show on their TV, just like they watch any other show on TV.
I think you can figure out the rest.