Daniel Eran Dilger
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First Look: Apple TV 2.0 and iTunes Movie Rentals

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Daniel Eran Dilger
After suffering a year of media mockery and consumer indifference, Apple TV is poised to leverage its tight integration with iTunes to jump to the front of the line in living room media rentals. The best news: existing early adopters will gain all the new features via a software update without needing to replace or upgrade their existing hardware.

Steve Jobs originally floated Apple TV under the temporary moniker iTV back in the fall of 2006. In many ways, the device seemed to be a placeholder designed to inspire confidence in the company’s ability to maintain parity with competitors’ online movie sales. In parallel with the announcement, Apple upgraded iTunes video to “near DVD” quality, added Dolby Surround sound, and started into the movie sales business initially with only Disney as a partner.

After its official release following last years’ Macworld Expo, Jobs described Apple TV as a hobby and later as a ‘fourth leg’ that he hoped would help hold up the company’s platforms. Jobs told USA Today, “We have the Mac business, which is a $10 billion business, and music — our iPod and iTunes business — which is $10 billion. We hope the iPhone is the third leg on our chair, and maybe one day, Apple TV will be the fourth leg.”

While the iPhone quickly established itself as a powerful force in the mobile industry, Apple TV didn’t seem to get much attention at all. After appearing briefly in a TV ad showing a user moving iTunes video from his computer to an iPod to the living room TV, the device seemed to slip from Apple’s radar and spent the better part of 2007 collecting dust in conspicuously low trafficked corners of Apple’s otherwise busy retail stores.

Continues: AppleInsider | First Look: Apple TV 2.0 and iTunes Movie Rentals (photos, video)

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  • qka

    My question is how the cable companies that are also ISP’s will respond to this.

    Comcast (and others?) are already blocking or slowing P2P traffic. If iTunes movies take off, how much of a load will it place on Internet infrastructure, at least in the US? Will the cable companies move to block or slow iTunes traffic? Consider to, that iTunes movies are direct competition to cable’s video-on-demand and other services.

    If iTunes movies become big, I foresee reports of the cable-based ISPs moving to block or retard this new traffic.

  • http://johnsessays.blogspot.com John Muir

    Peer to peer (especially BitTorrent) saturates homes’ upload channel … it’s quite conspicuous as few other services do that, which is why upload bandwidth is typically an order of magnitude lower than the download side we always hear about in marketing.

    Meanwhile Apple’s video on demand will be a typical one-way flow. I don’t see ISP’s getting too bothered by bit, especially when you keep in mind how expensive it would be to really saturate it 24-7 as a home user!

    Cable TV companies might have something to fear. But the smarter ones will know their broadband is the really important part of what they do. The internet is only going to get bigger for all of is, while TV may well find itself entirely online.

    Keep an eye out for a good example of survival of the fittest in this market.

  • thgd

    The big question relative to the new iTunes rentals for me is… what is the minimum broadband speed required to make this service work properly especially in HD format ?

  • http://www.giveyourbrainachance.com jeromec

    Am I the only one who observed that iTunes movie rentals (not HD) have an increased resolution ?
    I tried with 2 movies (Die Hard 4 and Blades of glory) and their resolution, displayed by Quicktime Player, was 8xx*480, which is real 480p widescreen.
    TV shows and other video content used to max out at 640*360 for widesscreen, and 640*360 is the highest resolution for iPhone or iPod video content (for widescreen, else it is 640*480).
    And they look (but I might be wrong) better than other iTunes video content
    And movie rentals play great on iPods.

    This can explain :
    – why Steve spoke about DVD quality instead of near-DVD quality (the resolution is now superior to this of NTSC DVDs)
    – why movie rentals only play on current generation iPods and iPhones (5G and 5.5G iPods’s hardware might have the limiting factor for the 640*480 limit)

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