Robert X. Cringely Speculates on Apple Movie Download Business

PBSis Robert X. Cringely has penned a bit of speculation on the idea that Apple is planning on getting into the video download business. Following a similar track as our own Devilis Advocate, Mr. Cringely puts the pieces together based on Steve Jobsi keynote from Macworld Expo, but also looks at a technology in QuickTime, H.264, as a key component to Appleis plans.

"The first hint came to me a day or so before the MacWorld show when right at midnight my computer stopped playing Apple movie trailers," wrote Mr. Cringely. "The only way to watch QuickTime movie trailers was suddenly through iTunes 4.7, which takes you straight through the iTunes Music Store. [...] Apple had made no announcements, nor had they upgraded QuickTime, so Iid say it was a glitch that presaged the eventual replacement of that player for the selling of movies."

Noting that the issue has since been fixed, Mr. Cringely said that the momentary glitch allowed him to "see the future."

Looking Sony president Kunitake Andois appearance on stage with Steve Jobs at the keynote, Mr. Cringely saw it as much more than an effort by Sony to sell a few HD camcorders. Calling Mr. Jobsi mention of 2005 as "the Year of HD," Mr. Cringely wrote that he thinks Apple will be making more announcements about that industry in the coming year.

"It is simple to say that Apple hopes to repeat with video the success it already has with iPod and iTunes," he wrote. "Jobs denies interest in video, citing the dominance of cable companies, but then he always denies right up until the moment he changes his mind, and that moment is coming."

In recent years, Mr. Jobs has made Apple a highly successful company by deriding some products as useless, only to then announce its own entry into the market at later date. Those announcements, such as the iTunes Music Store and the iPod itself, were introduced with the spin that Apple had solved the problems that had heretofore made them so worthless.

As an example, Mr. Jobs and other Apple execs have also repeatedly rejected the idea of an Apple PDA, a video iPod, and subscription music downloads. If Apple should eventually enter these markets, the pitch will be that Apple has solved the problems preventing those concepts from being successful.

The proof of this approach, of course, is in the pudding. Without failure, the public has so far eaten up that sales pitch, turning Apple into a US$12 billion a year company in the process. Much of that growth has been from the iPod, a representation (including form factor and user-interface, a key to the iPodis success) of a product class that had been on the market for several years.

Mr. Cringely sees Tiger, the next major release of Mac OS X, as the missing piece for Appleis next evolution step, because with Tiger will come H.264, Appleis high performance video codec that makes streaming High Definition content possible. H.264 is also being built into iChat AV, which will also be introduced with Tiger.

According to his article, "Apple canit announce that it is in the movie distribution business until 10.4 (code-named Tiger) is available."

The full column has much, much more information, and we recommend it as an interesting read.