One More Thing Dissected

by Chris Seibold Oct 13, 2005

If you happen to have a bi-weekly column on AppleMatters you don’t exactly have a plethora of topic options the day after and invitation only Apple Media event. So with the subject matter thrust upon us an examination of Wednesday’s announcements is clearly in order. Taking the announcements in reverse chronological order:

Video content:
For his one more thing announcement Steve Jobs revealed that you can now buy television shows via the iTunes store. Well not just any TV show, only a few choice selections from ABC (Lost, Desperate Housewives, Night Stalker, That’s So Raven, The Suite Life). The price? A mere $1.99. Which seems like a pretty square deal for the amount of content you get. The selection doesn’t seem like much at first glance and the resolution is 320x240 (so long year of HD). All told it isn’t exactly the full-blown movie store a lot of people envisioned. Here we should remember the predation strategy of the Komodo dragon. Instead of poisoning, asphyxiating, or manually chomping their dinner to death Komodos rely on a filthy toxic bacterial stew that festers constantly in their cesspool of a mouth to do the dirty work. Supposedly the Komodo lightly wounds the victim, waits for the bacterial frappe to do its thing (according to one of those educational programs) and then leisurely dines on its prey under beautiful Indonesian skies. The video store does to paid online video content what the Komodo does to its prey. It instantly infects the market with the idea that Apple now rules the paid video content category and squashes the chances of any competitor making a viable online video store. In short the itunes store with video may not be the most electrifying thing Apple has ever revealed but, long term, it is probably the canniest move by Apple in recent memory.

iTunes 6:
Let us hope iTunes 5 had good life insurance because it didn’t stay around long enough to save up for the wife and kids. Less than two months after version 5 was the latest and greatest it became the most short-lived version ever produced by Apple. Well what does the new iTunes get you? A way to buy music videos (you get to pick from two thousand of the beasties), a ham fisted way to browse video titles, recommendations for your collection based on past purchases, gifting and customer reviews.  The gifting and customer reviews are nice additions but one is left wondering what took so long. The music video addition is far more interesting. Will this addition do anything to placate the record executives?  The skeptical among you are probably correct,  the record execs are no doubt too busy making sure the bacteria between their teeth remains very deadly to notice the new revenue stream.

Video enabled iPod:
Here’s what everyone had been predicting since iPods first showed up with color screens. It falls short of the hopes of many users but does add a marginally larger screen, a slimmer profile, larger capacities and, of course, video playback abilities. Music remains the main function and while the iPod may look out of proportion compared to the earlier generations it is likely something people can get used to looking at. If wondering if your iPod can play video via a firmware update or some such guess what creek you’re on and guess where the paddle is. As of this writing it seems that if you want the video goodness you’re going to have pony up for a new sliver of digital audio player goodness, but hey, it now comes in black.

iMac update:
For some odd reason Steve Jobs was touting the thinness of the revised iMac. It’s a desktop, not a portable and the thing is already absurdly thin so one is befuddled as to why it needed to be even thinner. Though it is worth noting that folks with six-inch deep desks are probably rejoicing. The other changes were a bit more dramatic: The iMac now includes a built-in iSight for use with iChat AV (that’s a $149 value for you folks scoring at home) and a remote control dubbed, inventively, Apple Remote. The software to use the new remote has been dubbed Bob Uecker Front Row. The quickest thought is that the Mac is Apple’s answer to the media PC. If the iMac is Apple’s answer they didn’t understand the question, the iMac still lacks a TV tuner among other essential features to be a true Media Center option. The iMac also now ships with the Mighty Mouse instead of the Apple Pro Mouse. The implications that a now standard Mighty Mouse carries for the future of Mac laptops are very interesting.

Since Halloween is rapidly approaching there’s a need to throw a little scare into you at this point. Note that iTunes now has video fully integrated and the iPod plays video files. Further realize that Apple’s mainstream consumer level computer has a built in iSight camera. Let us reflect on these developments for a moment. An iPod that can play video on the go, a computer that can record video straight into iMovie and an iTunes front end that supports video. Hmmm, what does that all add up to? vCasting (or whatever you want to call it) for the masses, That’s right soon people will be sitting in front of their iMacs making perfectly awful video casts. They’ll be fifty jillion about Apple computers, 500 million about gadgetry in general and the only one anyone will really watch is the one where some girl takes her shirt off. The horror, the horror.


  • If wondering if your iPod can play video via a firmware update or some such guess what creek you’re on and guess where the paddle is

    Not so sure… If the technology exists in the older iPods as rumored, then I’d expect this to be enabled sometime early in the new year.

    There is an instant market of iPods waiting for video out there. So I suspect that after the Christmas spree on video iPods, Apple will reneg - and then sell squillions of more movies. Which of course looks good on their bottom line as the online distribution point of choice for video.

    The video iPod is not a separate device in the range, so people who buy those larger models will continue to do so - now they get video playback thrown in for free. Except for the Hadley’s of the world, many people aren’t going to keep updating their iPod everytime a new model comes out. But if you can take advantage of those people by allowing them video functionality - why wouldn’t you?

    I expect it to be a nice little announcement for MWSF 2006 “One more thing - any hard disk color screen iPod can now play video.” (though I don’t think nanos will get video playback as that would pose more threat to video iPod sales)

    Chris Howard had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 1209
  • I hope for the sake of color ipod owners you are right Chris. It would be a nice thing for Apple to do.

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 354
  • You could have mentioned the fact the Firewire syncing is now completely gone from the iPod line-up! I am very disappointed with apple regarding this issue. I usually don’t mind when older technologies get chucked out (i was glad to see the back of floppy drives and more recently have been wondering how much longer we’ll be seeing 56k modems as standard), but this time I mind.

    Apple came very late to the USB 2 game. When my not-so-old powerbook was released USB 2 was already pretty standard on PCs, but that didn’t matter because after all we had Firewire. But now all apple sees is the extra $$ they can make off all the PC users buying iPods, and they drop firewire.

    Apple should either stick by their (FW) guns a bit longer, or get with the (USB2) program a bit sooner.


    Oliver had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 15
  • oliver,
    keep it under your hat, that is going to be tuesday’s rant

    Chris Seibold had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 354
  • Well, video-capable iPod isn’t very surprising for almost everyone, but it’s still a heavy punch (especially to the competitors) in every measure.

    As I said in on my own comment space, iPod with video is a necessary feature after they introduced Nano, which is essentially a smaller-size iPod photo. One key factor for Apple to get sale figures that high in every sector of MP3 market is by clear product differentiation, which creates maximum value in each product, which leads to minimum cannibalization among its own products and maximum sales for each one. The power to define product classification is a great measure of marketing power and influence. Just look at Creative, everytime they come up with something new, it’s an add-on to its already crowded product line-up. They just can’t let go of the incured cost on previous lame product when they intorduce another; they are simply directionless and clueless regardless of how Mr Sim Wong Hoo the CEO trumpeted the self-declared war against apple.

    fingers08 had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 3
  • BTW, did anyone here already wonder about how they are going to use any of their 3rd party add-ons dependant on the remore-slot of the iPod with the new model?

    Bad Beaver had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 371
  • Oliver: Re, modem—the modem is gone from the iMac—it’ s now a 45 dollar USB device ordered as an accessory.

    Kris Thom White had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 18
  • With the QuickTime update, QT Pro users can turn any video file into something that can play on a new iPod (the video playing ones). Scary… People will be watching their pirated anime and porn on the bus!

    I loathe the day that vCasts emerge…

    Waa had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 110
  • You want vCasts? they are already alive and…. well… here.  Check out and you’ll find yourself a whole slew of people with nothing better to do than open their postal mail and do the dishes in front of a webcam and upload it for the enjoyment of others.  Veoh DOES offer quite a bit of other cool stuff but the video blog seems to rule the roost right now unfortunately.

    Oddly, I found Front Row to be the most interesting announcement for me but I’m not about to rush out and buy a new iMac just to use it (because of course the Mac Mini makes way more sense as a media PC connected to a HD television than the iMac ever will).  I see that the Apple Remote is available in the store site now, anyone have any idea if the software will be available at some point too?  I’d love to have a media center type front end for video, etc.  I was hoping for CenterStage to really take off, and maybe it will eventually, but I need something totally wife-friendly.

    dickrichards2000 had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 112
  • While intrigued by the new iMac, it’s much more a consumer toy than a pro machine. I know Apple was targeting the consumer sector with this event, but it’s still disappointing to not hear anything at all for the pro crowd from Stevie boy.

    motherduce had this to say on Oct 13, 2005 Posts: 17
  • An apple tech note informs that the TV-out on the new iPod is only for slideshows. Which means you can not use the iPod to run keynote presentations or movies on a LCD or TV. WTF?

    Johnny66 had this to say on Oct 14, 2005 Posts: 13
  • Here is the link to the tech note I mentionned in post 11:

    Johnny66 had this to say on Oct 14, 2005 Posts: 13
  • That tech note applies only to the iPod Photo, or at least that’s what it says on the page.  The new one is fully capable of playing video on a television from the TV-out, CNN was kind enough to demonstrate and act genuinely oblivious to the seemingly lackluster video quality.

    Agreed about the Pro line - iMac G5 has already been introduced and updated twice within the past year while the Powerbook line hasn’t seen much in nearly as long except the (finally!) inclusion of 512MB RAM out of the box and a minor MHz boost.

    Did anyone else notice that the new iMac is using DDR2 RAM now?  The switch to Intel looms ever closer.

    dickrichards2000 had this to say on Oct 14, 2005 Posts: 112
  • Video on older iPods?
    warning: may require esoteric knowledge of the Ways of the Penguin OS.

    Just got it working on my b/w mini. color, of course, looks better.
    Chances of Apple enabling this on older iPods: Same as rehiring Woz.
    Could happen..

    Mac_128 had this to say on Oct 23, 2005 Posts: 3
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