iPhone Leaves Video Out in the Cold

This post was written by Laurie Sullivan, a potential NewTeeVee contributor. Let us know what you think.

If you’re a video fanatic looking to pick up an Apple iPhone today you might be a bit disappointed. There’s no video camera in the version set to debut at 6 p.m. local time. Industry insiders baffled at the lack of video recording capabilities say it’s especially odd since the company offers a set of high-end movie editing tools for the Mac. Apple spokespeople aren’t talking.

I’m scratching my head, too (as I contemplate waiting in line at an Apple or AT&T store for hours to get my iPhone). You might think Apple
would have embedded a high-end video camera simply to indulge Hollywood’s digital moviemakers like Christopher Coppola, or attract
armature videographers, many of whom depend on Mac editing software. At the very least, leverage the built-in video camera to promote a
user-generated promotion, tapping Google’s YouTube as the hot destination to post clips, similar to handset maker Nokia.

A high-end video camera in the iPhone would give AT&T subscribers the ability to point, shoot and wireless beam clips to YouTube or other
viral video sites. For now, video aficionados who want to showoff their latest creation will have to take a few extra steps before
uploading clips onto YouTube. Apple suggests shooting the video on a mini DVD, for example, uploading it to iMovies on the Mac, importing
the movie into iTunes, and then syncing to the iPhone. From there you can wirelessly upload the homemade video onto YouTube, and keep a copy on the phone. Wow, doesn’t that sound efficient!

“It seems a bit strange to leave off a means to capture video given that virtually every cellphone has it,” said Philip John, founder of
Clippz.com, a U.K.-based user-generated video site that launched June 19.

Clippz is adding to Apple’s endorsed content at the iTunes Store and YouTube, by encoding content in the H.264 file format. About 500 files from MySpace, Metacafe, and YouTube are available from Clippz.com at launch. Slim pickings.

You can bet the decision to design video capabilities on the iPhone based on the H.264 file format has everything to do with locking in
distribution deals and little to do with the quality of the content. It’s no secret that Apple tends to design sexy gadgets that everyone
must own. Consumers build libraries of music and movies that only play on their devices, so they rush out to replace it with another, after
the first one breaks. Cynthia Brumfield at IP & Democracy had elaborated on this point earlier in the month.

Along with brand loyalty, Apple gains access to roughly 273 million AT&T wireless subscribers in about 100 U.S. markets. Video will travel
on the carrier’s EDGE network, averaging data speeds of more than 100 Kbps to smoothly download or upload movies and clips. Maybe we’ll see a video camera in the next rev.

Update: More on this topic from Scott Kirsner writing in Variety.

Laurie Sullivan has worked in the technology industry for 20 years, holds a M.FA. in Creative Writing from Chapman University, and has written for Ad Age, Electronic Buyer’s News, InformationWeek, TechWeb, Red Herring, L.A. Business Journal, and Investor’s Business Daily.