Apple will do a video iPod

28 Comments

video ipod visualsIt has been one of those urban myths, that is actually true. Despite fervent denials by Steve Jobs (nobody will take him for his word!) Apple is working on a video iPod, as per the WSJ. My Business 2.0 colleague, Paul Sloan had the complete lowdown, and had been working on this scoop ever since he wrote the big piece pondering what next for Apple, in the April 2005 issue of the magazine. WSJ hints that the video iPod is all about music videos, Sloan has more gory and exclusive details than just that.

> Steve Jobs has spoken with Disney President and soon-to-be CEO Bob Iger about ways to license various Disney content for a video iPod, according to an internal Disney email I have obtained. That could include anything from clips from ESPN and ABC News to short cartoons. (Sloan’s Scoop!)

The video iPod developments has Bill Gates doing a Charlton Heston impersonation: from my cold dead fingers.

28 Comments

Anonymous

ipod videos are totally awesome, they are not $600 so ha the ipod video is so good for long trips and the screen is also pretty big. The cost is only $300.

netrama

It is been no mystery that apple has been swindling people with their over priced b*s* products since a few years. What surprises me is people still buying ipods ..at a time when ‘carrying an ipod isnt cool anymore dude’ ..it is more like SONY or MROBE or SAMSUNG or GIGABEAT what is cool ..
Yes back to their latest b*s* video player a 30Gb and a 60Gb for like $400 ….that too on a tiny 2.5: screen ..what is this some kind of JOKE ?? I can as well see all the videos on my $200 SONY PSP with a 4″ screen ..
what about the Video Players from RCA PDP or IRiver PMP series with 3.5″ screens ..been around for an Year and like $250 range …
It is funny how people like Apple ..can take shit and put a nice packing on it and sell it.
And if you thought ipod was the only mp3 player on the face of this planet , you need to come out of your cave…

iriver option

Just to clarify, iRiver has already put out a DAP (digital audio player) which is vastly surerior to the current iPods. H3xx series has the ability to play music, store files, pictures, and yes even play videos. Every one that I know who has one, loves it, and actually uses the video function quite a bit. It’s especially great for those long train trips/long morning commutes….

Unfortunately it will turn out that the world will think that Apple has broken thru and revolutionized the world (yet again) with portable video incorporated into the MP3 market, when actually another company has had that ability around for a year plus. But I guess that’s the way the world turns.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself at: http://www.engadget.com/entry/7289753542018387/

Jim

I would buy a video iPod.

Think about it. If Apple were to negotiate with news outlets like CNN or ESPN, users could subscribe to podcast like broadcasts for their vPods.

I spent 35 minutes on the train everyday listening to my iPod and reading the news. I would much rather watch Sports Center or a news program.

If the media outlets are quick, a podcast could be published with up to date content by 8am EST, plenty of time for a majority of poeple to grab their iPods off the dock and hop on the train.

Plus, think about how many kids will want these to watch their music videos or silly video clips.

I think this is a good idea.

Dick Switz

Hard drive space isn’t a problem, so why not have the software (which, like iTunes, runs on the desktop) create a full SD version for Video out to TV and a tiny 320 x 240 or whatever) version for playback on the vPod screen? Whenever you import a video file into the desktop software (which can read any video format that Quickime has the codecs for), it re-encodes it at hi and lo versions for the vPod. A set-top cradle/charger could contain a bit of extra video processing to handle the SD video (if doing so onboard is too processor intensive) as well as TV connection.

Bill Leimkuehler

I wonder if Apple’s move to Intel could have anything to do with the iPod Video. Perhaps they plan on using some of the XScale processors in these new iPods that could support the CPU-intensive codecs such as the MPEG-4 codec and its variants.

It should be possible considering that the Xbox has a Pentium III 733MHz and it can run Xbox Media Center which can play back pretty much any video format ever created.

I’m sure a new deal with Intel would offer favorable pricing on some XScale processors that would only need to run at a few hundred megahertz.

docwho76

Paul,

Saw your comment on Om’s blog and I have to say a few things. First of all, yes it points to Apple doing something that they are in talks with Iger. But as I pointed out, just having rights from say Disney and its owned partners is but only a slice of the total video content pie worth getting users access too. With regards to the size/form factor of the device I realize a few have brought up the docking concept could apply here quite well. However, why even bother with making it an ultra-portable device when instead you could say make it the size of a Mac Mini and make it stackable! Certainly a CE version of a video iPod done this way would be much easier to come up with a cheaper to manufacture device with far greater options for high capacity storage. Everyone I think has sort of forgotten that the reason the iPod works so well is a combination of factors:

1. Audio in MP3 and other compressed formats only requires few to multi megabytes per song or album. This is a number that lends itself to being able to load all or most of a single track into memory do the iPod HD can spin down. This translates directly into increased power savings.

2. Video is not simple like audio is. In audio you’ve got MP3, WMA, AAC, MP3 Pro, Real Audio, and Ogg codecs. With video you have far more codecs to worry about supporting if you want to be viewed as progressive. You’ve got DivX (which version?), Xvid, MPEG-4, WMV9, WMV10, WMV8, Sorenson, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, AVI, MOV, etc. Plus the issue that some of these formats are merely virtualised container standards that could be any variety of video codec. This is a support nightmare for putting into firmware, not to mention issues of licensing rights to use certain codecs.

3. Playing back video requires real CPU power depending on the format or how you are going to play the video back. Think about it this way. If the video iPod is going to be a portable device that hooks into a dock for playback on a real TV set, etc then you are going to want to store video on it encoded for a resolution meant for playback on your TV set. However this now creates a playback problem while on the go because it means you have to scale on the fly your resolution down to your tiny screen. So do you encode your videos for your video iPods resolution or do you do it for your TVs intended resolution? What about HDTV?

4. Video playback requires a constant stream of data to be processed and if video clips are of any length longer such that they don’t fit into a RAM buffer you are going to have significantly decreased battery life as well as hard drive liftetime due to more time spent spinning to playback the video thus translating into more care needing to be taken cared of because the hard drive is spinning more often while the device might be in motion in your hand or body thus presenting more shock trauma potentially.

Hope this helps clear up some of my earlier statements.

-Dan Spisak
http://www.nonmundane.org/work/
http://www.nonmundane.org/gallery/
http://blog.nonmundane.org/

Dick Switz

Video out is what will make/break the vPod. If you can grab clips/movs/avi/divx ect off the web and watch them on your TV this will be killer. I currently have to burn them to DVD or haul out a laptop to do this. A very decent divx encoded feature film takes up 700M – 1gig, a 22 minute TV episode about 175M, so even a 40Meg drive will hold a lot of content. With video-podcasting it will be like having a portable, net-enabled tivo. All it needs is a 1/8 AV out and an adaptor cable like my videocamera.

Mike

I happen to be in a position with a major distributor of ipods. They are a great aidea, convenient, lightwight. But what I don’t hear about is how often they break down, many times within just a couple weeks of purchase. They are anything but sturdy and need redesigned from the inside. They used to be an exchange item but the return volume was so high they are service now and take a couple weeks for repair. I think they need to fix weaknesses inherent in the system before moving onto bigger and better things.

Ken

docwho76,
To a large extent, I agree with you. A CE device that works in the home makes much more sense for video and a small screen is not very tempting nor ideal. But what if the video iPod and the CE set top device is one and the same? Why not just make one product that can be connected to the home theater or carried with you. The iPod is currently used this way by many people and even Apple sells a phone jack to RCA connector for this purpose. Plus people said the same thing about the iPod Photo: “no one wants to look at pictures on that thing, the screen is too small.” It is, but that is why they made it so easy to connect to a TV and use that to view the pics. The ability to view the pics on the iPod is only for convenience when no monitor or TV is available. Why can’t this be extended to video and used the same way. If Apple made the iPod just slightly larger, but still very pocketable, with larger screen than the current iPod you would have a product that would allow you to watch video on the go, but was really meant as an addition to the home theatre.

asho

DocWho,

In every rumor site regarding the vid iPod, theres always someone with the the same lack of vision you have, complaining about the practicality of such a small screen. Of course a 2 inch screen is next to useless for video viewing. Like the current audio iPods, the vid iPods will be vehicles for the media, not the output. The best use of audio ipods is when they output to high quality sound systems; likewise the video ipods will be primarily used to output to full size displays, something the full-size units ALREADY do.

paul Sloan

docwho

Paul Sloan here. Right. No telling how the discussions with Disney will shake out. Yes, it’s likely that music video will be the cornerstone of any video ipod. No suggestion yet that movies are in the works — never mind the form factor and whether it makes sense…the rights issues involved are far from being worked out. But that Jobs and Iger are talking about a content partnership for the video ipod points to something….

EricE

Think of it as videocasting… podcasting for video. that would work…

Think of the possibilites. Want viral marketing? Revive the concept of the original adcritic.com website that had all the funny commercials, bundle in movie trailers and give it the podcast/ITMS interface.

The success of that alone should get the industries attention….

John Armstrong

Who would buy one of these things?

That’d be me. I travel constantly and having a Video ipod would truly be a killer app for that environment.

Also do not discount the Apple/iPod effect on changing culture. Podcasting, mp3 etc, all were brought mainstream by Apple. What shifts would a video ipod bring? I don’t think we can say..

What if you have a video ipod and a digicam, how do they interact? What does this mean to the network? Would a video ipod make the Vlog a reality?

We just don’t know yet but don’t underestimate these things.

Justin

Sorry to post twice in a row, but i didn’t realize someone had asked about a timescale for the video ipod/video itunes, the MSNBC article speculates that this will be happening in September.

Justin

MSNBC reported yesterday that the itunes music store will in fact be selling music videos, keeping the itunes/hard drive/ipod transition as easy as it is now. They mentioned the videos would sell for $1.99 each, with a discount if a song is purchased at the same time.

MSNBC article:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8614723/

chris

This thing will be nifty and all, from a geek tech fetish sort of standpoint, but I have to wonder…

…what the hell use will it be for anyone old enough to have a life outside of watching music videos? As noted above, it’ll be useless to watch films on, too small and underpowered to be useful for any sort of in-the-field DV watching/storing/editing, and now that broadcast is dead, won’t even be as useful as the (never very useful) Sony Watchman back in the day.

Oh, he’ll sell a bunch initially to the kind of people who bought the 1st-gen iPod Photo, but unless it has some other MAJOR selling point besides watching short form video (telephone? PDA?), it’ll fly like a (beautifully-designed) lead brick.

Ameet

Why is’t Jobs talking to his own company Pixar rather than to his rival Disney?

Om Malik

docwho

first of all this is not my scoop. repeat not my scoop. i am pointing to a scoop from Business 2.0 editor at large Paul Sloan. If you read the comment, it is clear they are going for short form videos. Music videos, sports clips and all. If they can make it easy and fun and simple, there is a good chance they can be successful. i agree.. watching full length movies on the small screens is pointless, but there is some form of video which can make a lot of sense on this. it is not telvision either. just shorts. that is the key difference. well we shall have to wait and watch how it evolves

docwho76

Om, I love the scoops you get but I think you are really jumping the gun here. Sure, Apple is in talks to license music videos. Music videos does not begat feature films just yet. Also, if that was to be the case Apple would need to be negotiating these rights with the big studios in parallel otherwise they would have to unduely delay delivery of the for-pay content. However this still does not address the issue at hand of why even have a video iPod? It makes no sense for the form factor currently in use. The iPod has been all about size, convience, and user expereience. These are goals that congruently follow the needs of a portable audio player. They are not the needs of a portable video player! I mean, seriously, who is going to pay $XXX money for a video iPod so they can watch video on a screen the size of a small smartphone? When people watch video it happens in static environments: In a class, at the theaters, in the living room, at the ballgame. You don’t see people carrying portable Sony TV Watchmans around do you? They had 2.2″ screens on them and could watch OTA TV channels just fine and these existed back in the mid eighties. Yet the market for them is so small as to be insignificant.

Now if Apple makes a CE device for the home that could tie into a iTunes Movie Store or something of the like I’m willing to listen. But I just dont seem portable video as a real market. Every CE device trying to do it just has too many compromises to make the video experience worth the customers money and time I feel.

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