At long last, the video iPod is here

Apple ended months of speculation today when it unveiled a new iPod capable of playing videos on its two and a half inch screen. The new iPods are slimmer than their predecessors, but they have considerably greater disk capacity. A 30 gig iPod capable of holding 75 hours of video sells for $299, and $399 will get you a 60 gig unit and 150 hours of video.

This heralds a whole new chapter in the disruptive challenges to broadcasters, because, for example, ABC has already cut a deal with Apple to provide hit shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives for $1.99 each WITHOUT commercials. The shows will be available the day after they’ve aired.

Ryan over at Engadget gives it high marks.

The video iPod won’t disappoint. It feels slim and easy to hold even after two weeks spent with my nano. Video playback is solid. They’re not kidding about 30 fps without sputtering. You can’t fast forward, but you can scroll back and forth on a progress bar–just as you do with music–to jump forward and back in the video. Oh, and the black model is going to be hot. Without the U2 model’s red wheel it’s less of an acquired taste.
The notion of a generation of people watching video on a hand-held device is already generating some fun thoughts. Nashville is Talking’s Brittney Gilbert thinks the new iPod is pretty cool but adds, “The first time I walk up on some creep watching porn at the library I’m gonna revolt.” The Broadcasting and Cable blog (BCBeat) noted that the announcement was “followed by an unceremonial severing of the last threads of face-to-face communication left in our society” and said the device “will allow you to watch TV — and ignore other human beings — anywhere a lithium battery can be recharged.”

This announcement has been expected, and I think it moves the challenges facing broadcasters to a whole new level. Video on Demand (VOD), whether it’s through Tivo, your cable company, or now downloading and time-shifting to an iPod, is the one thing that the concept of network affiliates simply can’t overcome. Local broadcasters need to rethink everything now. Consumers may find it easy to pay two bucks for an episode of Lost, but will they feel the same way about local news and local programming? Will there be enough people downloading one of these network shows to impact broadcast ratings?

These are trying times for broadcasting, and today’s announcement is further evidence that only those with an aggressive new media model will survive long term.

Comments

  1. I appreciate the leap forward that this represents, but I doubt that I will be rushing out to get one of these things.

    I could be wrong, but from what I’ve read, the video for download is low res. I have no need for that. I’ll wait until I am able to download video that I can plug into a TV and watch. Then I would be likely to buy a show or a movie or whatever, and travel with it.

    In the meantime, if I were a kid, I would get the PSP or the Archos player. Bigger screen, 16:9 aspect ratio, and holds full res content.

    The problem for Apple could be that I, and others, might opt for the now less expensive ‘old’ version sans video player.

    Just my .02

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