Thursday, September 14th, 2006

Apple’s iTV’s hidden promise


Apple trotted out a revamped iTunes, new iPods and a dramatically smaller Shuffle on Tuesday. But it also pre-announced iTV, a device due to arrive in 2007 that’ll wirelessly (and presumably, through a wired network if you want) distribute video content from your computer to your TV.

Some are excited that this new device will become an “iPod for the living room,” allowing consumers to download movies off the iTunes Store and watch them in the living room. That’s true, and it’s where Apple is probably banking the money will be. But what this device also does, assuming it flies of the shelves like the iPod has, is move video podcasting (and any other videos people can cook up) onto TV as well. Now there’s essentially a level playing field between, say, Lost or Cars and Rocketboom or Ask a Ninja. It’s all there in the same box, waiting to be viewed.

I don’t think this will be an immediately noticable change, but as time goes on, the ability to watch video podcasts on your television, without any screwing around, will be a real sea change in the way media gets distributed. If you can go straight to the audience, without worrying about getting your work into a film festival, on a traditional broadcast channel, or into a movie theatre, the rules have completely changed. And who will people go to for the equipment needed to create their videos? Most probably, Apple. Clever fella, that Steve Jobs.

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

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