Apple Invokes the Reality Distortion Field

As expected, Apple has announced a laundry list of varyingly interesting products and services. It’s being treated like the reinvention of the web, of course, but cut through the Jobs-accorded reality distortion field and you get a wireless set-top box for streaming video, a movie download addition to iTunes, and some storage upgrades on existing iPods.

While this is all perfectly fine stuff, it’s not clear why it has taken so long to launch it. The biggest issues:

  • Apple won’t have full availability until after Christmas selling season
  • The iTunes movies are limited to 640×480 — no HD, which is a big constraint
  • The initial movie catalog is tiny, something like 70 movies, all of which are from Disney

All in all, not bad, but other than starting a portable music player price war, and getting buyers looking at other companies’ streaming TV boxes (because Apple’s isn’t available), I’m not sure that a heck of a lot more has been accomplished here.


  1. Yea this was a disappointing announcement. Most of this stuff exists already. I thought this would be a true PVR solution. Media extenders and their like have existed for how many years now?
    Most surprising though is how much iTunes looks like Windows Media Player 11 now. You wonder who has the photocopiers working overtime now.

  2. Until their catalogue is larger – way larger – and includes newer releases, I can’t see it taking off. Even if the movies are the same being launched on DVD it’s still nothing new, as most cable and satellite companies already have their pay-per-view schedule pretty much in accordance with the DVD launches.

  3. I think I’ll stick with netflix. $300 bucks is a lot for a media extender and the storage of many movies makes my head hurt in terms of installing hdds and backup solutions. I thought the new shuffle was pretty hip though. Although I can’t imagine that will do wonders for their iPod ASP.

  4. I agree, I was bummed not to see the “True Video iPod” with a widescreen. I figured the touchscreen/bluetooth rumors were a bit overoptimistic, but I thought a bigger screen and proper aspect ratio for movies were a lock. iTV is a puzzler – I too was hoping for the Apple PVR, but with all of the problems Tivo is having these days I can see why Apple wants to separate itself from the messy world of cable and satellite tv. It seems that connecting your computer to your tv is as far as they want to venture into the living room.
    As for the Movies on iTunes, I’m excited, but this was inevitable. A pretty unsurprising “One more thing.” 70+ titles is a great start, though; let’s not forget how quickly the tv store has grown from 5 shows.

  5. 70 titles? Is that a joke? Have they pissed off 90% of the media companies and now they won’t play to Apples tune because of how they monopolized music downloads? That’s like walking into Best Buy and they have 1 HP computer and a Belkin Cat 5 cable. What kind of shopping experience is that? This seems rushed.
    And still no rentals or DVD burning allowed. How the hell are people supposed to store all these movies? HDDs are cheap but DVDs are still way more convenient storage mediums for movies.

  6. HDDs are cheap but DVDs are still way more convenient storage mediums for movies.
    Wha? You mean ‘way more reliable’, or possibly ‘way cheaper’, because in no other way is a DVD better than a hard drive.
    More generally- HD video must be coming. There isn’t any other sane reason to use HDMI in the iTV box, is there? (Quite possible I’m missing something there…)

  7. How is a DVD NOT better than a hard drive for mass storage? As you said it’s cheaper and more reliable. What more do you want? A DVD that I purchased 12 years ago still works. A HDD that I bought back then does not. Nor would I expect a HDD to last that long.

  8. “What more do you want?”
    Speed. Convenience.
    “A DVD that I purchased 12 years ago still works. A HDD that I bought back then does not. Nor would I expect a HDD to last that long.”
    That’s irrelevant – just keep copying your data to new, bigger drives. A disk drive you bought 12 years ago wouldn’t even hold a single movie, since it probably would have been in the 400 MB range, so it’s not like any sane person would be using one today.

  9. “The iTunes movies are limited to 640×480 — no HD, which is a big constraint”
    Yet it’s an improvement over the iPod resolution…
    I expect HD will be offered at some point. It’s certainly not Apple holding it back, but rather the studios.
    The iTV’s HDMI port is probably non-conclusive on this point: Apple would probably include it for the display of user-produced HD video.

  10. “just keep copying your data to new, bigger drives”
    You’re right. That’s so convenient. Idiot.

  11. Janice:
    The reason there are so few films available is that when word got out that Apple was going into the film download sector, Wal-Mart threw a temper tantrum and threatened to stop selling DVDs from studios that made agreements with Apple.

  12. Your point about DVDs being more convenient then HDDs, is the same as saying CDs are more convenient then HDDs. Your CDs from fifteen years ago still work, they are very cheap to make and not very big. CDs are more convenient, except whrn you download your music instead of buying it at a store.