mini Blockbuster

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Date: Friday, December 16th, 2005, 08:00
Category: Mac mini

mac-mini-200.jpgBlockbuster, Hollywood Video, Netflix, GreenCine, whatever the movie rental competition, I predict that Apple will eventually challenge these services. The Video iPod and iMac G5 were just testing the waters. The iPod screen is tiny and the iMac, even with the biggest screen is too small to be a home entertainment system. I wouldn’t have predicted it would start by selling TV episodes, but at some point Apple will need to rent feature length films at HD quality.
The Mac mini is the real deal. The size is right and video via Apple is poised to be the next big thing. The next mini is going to have to be a digital video recorder capable of decoding surround sound right out of the box. Think Secret is saying that video will reside on the user’s iDisk and never reside on the computer. I don’t think streaming feature length films or HD content can work that way any time soon, but I can envision a number of solutions that are far more robust than the DRM used to lock iTunes songs.
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mac-mini-200.jpgBlockbuster, Hollywood Video, Netflix, GreenCine, whatever the movie rental competition, I predict that Apple will eventually challenge these services. The Video iPod and iMac G5 were just testing the waters. The iPod screen is tiny and the iMac, even with the biggest screen is too small to be a home entertainment system. I wouldn’t have predicted it would start by selling TV episodes, but at some point Apple will need to rent feature length films at HD quality.
The Mac mini is the real deal. The size is right and video via Apple is poised to be the next big thing. The next mini is going to have to be a digital video recorder capable of decoding surround sound right out of the box. Think Secret is saying that video will reside on the user’s iDisk and never reside on the computer. I don’t think streaming feature length films or HD content can work that way any time soon, but I can envision a number of solutions that are far more robust than the DRM used to lock iTunes songs.
What about caching a movie and then retrieving unlock keys on the fly for each chapter. No single file sitting in a folder, just cached chapters that require an iTunes account to unlock while playing. How about encrypted and compressed video that requires an active internet connection to decrypt during playback. Whatever the mechanism, I am thinking about rental and not ownership of feature films. Just remember, that unlike the iPod, it would be easy to require an active Internet connection to enable playback with a mini. Tie the playback to deletion and you have a very robust system that protects content. After all, it would be easier for casual pirates to just rent the DVD and copy it in order to steal a movie. The studios should be happy with a roadblock that works better than the current copy protection built into DVD disks.
To really break out, the mini will have to replace not only Tivo/DVR but also Netflix/Blockbuster and perhaps even Playstation/Xbox. Too bad Apple is so weak in gaming right now. In addition, the mini needs to be the Super iPod of home entertainment. The mini could be your music player, video player, video recorder, your video rental store and game console. On top of that, you can store and edit your own movies and photos. iLife on the big screen. Just sell plasma displays and slick compatible home audio at the Apple Stores. The newest Intel Napa platform should go a long way towards keeping the mini fanless and add ViiV to deal with video content. The biggest problem I see is with the price vs. capacity of the 2.5″ hard drive, but time heals most storage capacity issues. If the new mini can do it all and do it all better, it will be a blockbuster product!
(Contributed by Bob Snow)

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One Response to “mini Blockbuster”

  1. I think that you’ve got it wrong with Apple. Apple has some fundamental problems with their TV offerings. First and foremost is that they do not have an effective way to get content from Apple to the TV. A Mac PVR would give them a footprint into this area, but would also undercut any attempts to try and price this ala carte. Why pay Apple when you are already paying the cable company for the service?
    While you may have been surprised that television is the first content available for download, it shouldn’t really be all that shocking. Many cable channels have locked up distribution rights for films for years to come. When a lot of movies were made, the internet wasn’t as powerful. Hollywood has failed to negotiate download rights with the artists, producers and unions and this will be an extermely difficult thing to do for the film industry.
    It doesn’t mean that new releases won’t show up, but the holy grail of media, (everything on demand) isn’t going to show up anytime soon.
    Netflix and Blockbuster are more important to Hollywood then Apple is. While downloading presents an opportunity for the studios, it also threatens to undercut the high profit margins that they earn on DVD rentals and sales. They will be very slow to threaten these margins and won’t be willing to threaten this income. 75% of Hollywood’s revenue comes from DVDs.
    Apple has been slow to get into the TV market and I’ve never seen any plans that they intend on entering the console marketplace. Hard to imagine that they are going to want to compete against the Xbox and the PS3, when we’ve already seen Nintendo, Sega & Atari fail. Sony is about to take a $1 billion loss on the PS3 sales and Xbox loses about $120 for every console they produce. Given that Jobs isn’t willing to spend $500 million to pick up a gem like TiVo, I somehow doubt that he’ll be willing to reach into his pockets for the capital that would be required for them to threaten the DVD retailers in this way.