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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Mac Mini As Personal Video iPod

Bob Cringley writes, Everyone seems to think the Mini is a media PC, and it has the basic characteristics of one. Cringley adds, "Though the box has no TV tuner, Apple does offer an analog adapter. And you can burn DVDs with it if you get the optional DVD burner. It is simple to say that Apple hopes to repeat with video the success it already has with iPod and iTunes.It means selling hardware devices and proprietary content to play on those devices.The first such hardware device is probably the Mini. And the proprietary content will be video encoded in AVC H.264, which will be supported first in OS X 10.4, promised for the second quarter of this year. So Apple can't announce that it is in the movie distribution business until 10.4 (code-named Tiger) is available".Steve said this is the Year of HD. So one could expect that any video sold by Apple would be in high definition format. That gets around the supposed cable monopoly (there is no HD monopoly) and is suitably proprietary that Apple ought to be able to enforce its Digital Rights Management system.When OS X 10.4 ships, the Mini will suddenly become Apple's version of a media PC. Like the iPod, it will be a simple device that serves proprietary content, in this case HD video. Just like Gateway, HP, and Dell before it, Apple will start selling in its stores HDTVs, only they'll carry the Sony brand. Do you want to buy a Gateway TV or a Sony TV?
There are two competing standards for High Definition DVDs - Blu-Ray and HD-DVD - but that H.264 is a constant on both systems. With movie studios divided between the two standards, Apple and the Mac Mini, supports every part of HD except a DVD standard, because one isn't needed. The Mini will download its HD video over broadband Internet connections so no optical component is required. The result is that Apple once again gets to market early and has a chance to become the de facto standard, just like iTunes did.
The correlation of HDTV ownership and broadband penetration is very high. People who own HD TVs for the most part don't have HD movies. Movies are the key here, much more than HDTV, which is available for free over air (hence the lack of a tuner in the Mac Mini. Besides, viewers will tolerate non-real-time movie downloads -- as long as they take less time than driving to Blockbuster and back Iflix and Iflickscould be the core of a new Apple movie service. one or both have been or are about to be - purchased by Apple.
Cringley's take - Mac Mini + iFlicks shall be positioned as the integrated digital distribution framework of video, similar to iTunes and iPod – Just like iTunes is where Apple really stands to capture massive long-term value, iFlicks + iTunes may position Apple as the digital media distribution pioneer with potential domination in this space. Impeccable logic and insightful reasoning.

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