Thursday, October 13, 2005

You Say You Want A Revolution?

Apple unveiled it's newest iPod yesterday. The revolution? It will allow you to play video as well as audio.

Think the shakeup in the record industry has been bad in the last few years? -- you haven't seen anything yet.

Also announced, at least in its infant stages, is the part that iTunes will play in the distribution of content. What iTunes is doing to the audio industry is coming for video industries as well -- direct to consumer downloads.

Eventually what this is likely to mean is that the giant media conglomerates will be little more than financiers for content providers. Decisions about what to watch and when and where to watch it will be completely pushed down to the consumer. Content will be the value proposition -- not packaging.

As exciting as the video iPod is, though, I do think that the truly revolutionary aspect will be the eventual role of iTunes (or whatever it will eventually be called). As home electronics become more integrated the day is soon coming when it will be an everyday thing for the computer/laptop/TV/stereo to be one fully integrated device/network within a home -- and iTunes (and/or its equivalents) will be the important aspect of the iPod/iTunes pair. Consumers will be able to sort through, download and view content (video and audio) from iTunes right through their "TV" screen, using a "remote" that will look like some sort of computer keyboard/remote tablet hybrid.

Want to watch "Curb Your Enthusiasm?" Forget the TiVo, look it up, buy it and watch it. At a certain price point this will start to make sense (why should I pay a flat fee for HBO when I watch at best 5% of what they air in a given month? Buy what you want a la carte and forget the rest) -- and as this becomes a dominant model that price point will fall.

If I want to watch it on my TV right then, I can do that. If I want to watch it later that night, I can store it and do that. If I want to download it to my iPod and watch it somewhere else tomorrow, I can do that.

What will become valuable will be good content that people will pay for. Which is as it should be.


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