Steve Jobs announced an update to the Apple TV at Macworld San Francisco this week as well as iTunes Movie Rentals, which were already rumored to be part of his Macworld keynote speech. The moves are designed to make the Apple TV easier to use.
The Failed Apple TV Video Strategy
Apple’s video strategy was a letdown, as Jobs himself admitted. The anticipated adoption of the Apple TV did not align with Jobs’ expectations. When Apple first announced the Apple TV last January, Apple’s initial video plan was too complicated for many people. Getting a video onto your Apple TV required customers to jump through a lot of hoops. To watch the video, they needed to purchase it from the iTunes Store, download it to their computer, and then sync or stream it via an Apple TV.
Just imagine a family sitting down to watch a movie in their living room. Once they decide on a movie, someone needs to buy the movie, download it, and then sync it to the Apple TV. Depending on your Internet connection, the entire process, start to finish, could take up to 30–45 mins.
Apple’s Shift To Rentals And Direct Streaming
Although Apple has already sold 7 million movies, Jobs said: “That’s more than everyone else put together, but it did not meet our expectations.”
Apple plans on overhauling their Apple TV strategy by making 2 major changes:
- Adding a new online movie rental service
- Updating the Apple TV’s software so that viewers can stream movies direct from the internet sans (that’s Middle English for without) computer.
Jobs thinks that viewers would prefer to rent movies, not buy them. The new Apple TV software will allow users to rent films from every major movie studio, including Fox, WB, Paramount, Universal and Sony. Jobs called it “A better way to provide movies to our customers.” Blockbuster and Netflix can’t be happy right now.
1000 films will be available for rental on iTunes starting in February 2008. Going forward, movies will be available to rent 30 days after they are released on DVD. Broadband users won’t have to wait for these giant movie files to download. Moments after you rent the film using your Apple TV, it will be watchable immediately via streaming. How much are iTunes movie rentals? $2.99 to rent older titles, $3.99 for new releases. Add one more $1 to those prices if you want to rent the movie in HD.
Thomas Lesinski, president of Paramount Pictures Digital Entertainment, joined Jobs on stage at Macworld and called the rental service a “defining moment” for the distribution of digital video content. “This is really going to take things to the next level,” he said.
The new Apple TV software features will be included in a free Apple TV update scheduled to be released in February. You can update your Apple TV by selecting “Update Software” from the Settings menu.
Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.