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Get Ready for the iPad to Change the Way You Watch Video

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Apple (s AAPL) has always been in the innovation business, and the iPad is no exception. And the iPad, like the iPod before it, could fundamentally change the way we consume media — in this case, video.

The iPad might not be the first mass market portable media device to offer the ability to watch digital video on the fly, but it will probably be the most important one. Apple has been selling online video for viewing on the iPod and the iPhone for years. But those devices had some serious limitations — notably their screen size. With just a 3.5-inch screen, the iPhone was never an ideal video device, though it was “good enough” for watching video on the go. But with a 9.7-inch screen, the iPad is basically a portable TV screen, ideal for consuming video anytime, anywhere.

This is arguably why Apple is pushing content partners to lower the cost of their movies and TV shows, according to reports. It’s betting that the launch of the new device will drive more demand for those files, and that a price decrease will only accelerate that demand, making up for any revenue losses due to halving the price by an increase in volume. By integrating iTunes into the device, Apple is betting that consumers will finally have a platform with which to embrace online video.

And why wouldn’t they? There’s already a huge number of consumers that use their laptops for “bedroom viewing,” tuning to Hulu, YouTube, and other sites before turning off the lights and going to bed. Commuters have turned to watching video on their iPods or iPhones instead of reading a book. And now, Apple has presented those users with a devices that bridges the divide between those two use cases. A device that is big enough to comfortably watch a full-length TV show or movie, but not so bulky as lugging around a laptop. Apple has, in short, created a whole new market opportunity by introducing a device that solves a problem most didn’t even think existed: how to make it easy for users to watch video on the go.

The iPad will cause ripples in multiple industries — including news, book publishing and gaming — but at the end of the day, I’m betting that what the iPad will be used for more than anything is watching video. Like the iPod, it’s only a matter of time before the iPad becomes the defining product with which to consume that type of media.

45 Responses to “Get Ready for the iPad to Change the Way You Watch Video”

  1. You, sir, are ignorant. It doesn’t have the ability to run codecs to display 70+% of the worlds most used encoding apart from consumer discs or partner streamed, no HD, It is also not 16:9 ratio. It also does not do video out.

    It’s Apple, you think it’s a great idea, however subpar it is. Yes – the concept = brilliant, thank god there are products coming out that will actually make things mainstream as you say.

    Tech blogs aren’t for you I’m afraid.

  2. I am a total ‘mac’ junkie, I have a Mac Pro, Mac Book and have all three version of iPhone plus at least a dozen different ipods. BUT I have to say. The iPad has missed the mark by a wide mile. No Camera, not for taking pictures but for using Skype or iChat or any video service. No USB or SD ports, come on, that is a standard of standards. To get video into my device I have to ‘sync’ with my computer and iTunes. Oh you can by and adapter, WTF buy and adapter for a totally common interface. Just more crap to carry around. So it becomes a two step process to load my camera pics and videos. VIDEO PLAYER Bull Crap!!! IT DOES NOT PLAT HD, “AGAIN” it does NOT play HD. WTF its also does not play WIDE SCREEN 16X9 its video dimensions are closer to 4 X 3. Really I’ll keep my Mac Book and when and if Effing AT&T and Apple agree to allow tethering to my iPhone, I’ll have a much better platform then this piece of crap “walled garden” tablet apple just came out with. Cant wait till Google does one.

  3. @Karen: Handbrake? You think most consumers know what handbrake is or how to use it? No chance. Plus, how do you get the videos on to the iPad after you have ripped them? The iPad has no USB port, SD card slot or anything that would make it easy. You would probably have to FTP them up to a server and then use the browser on the iPad to then transfer them down. I’m sure it’s doable, but not for the average consumer.

    • @dan – i agree most wont know how to use or what handbrake is, but that doesnt mean others cant generate content to sell in some fashion to these tablet owners. and as far as getting content on here, it syncs just like the giant ipod it looks like! all you have to do is drop the file in itunes, no complicated rube goldberg contraptions required….

  4. Apple is absolutely right in thinking that by lowering the cost the volume will make up for it. I can’t justify spending $1.99 for a TV show that I can easily Tivo – 99 cents just seems more reasonable.

    As for anyone who claims you can only watch video purchased at the iTunes store have you never heard of Handbrake? I’ve watched countless movies on my AppleTV and iPod all rented from netflix and ripped to my Hard Drive and then streamed or transferred.

    • When the effective cost of reproduction of digital content is zero, then by magically creating SKUs when you have infinite stock, well, it doesn’t matter what you charge for each unit. It’s all net gain. If TV shows were ad-supported OTA, they should be ad-supported on-line. Or, following the success of iTunes for music, it should have everything, be cheap, and just work. One 22-min episode should cost 50 cents and be completely place- and format- shiftable.

  5. I think a tuner is unnecessary – the point is they want to push IP video options forward. a tuner would be backwards looking in that instance. also not wholly shocked @ the lack of flash, but i think thats not them being forward looking, just a side effect of the pissing match between them and adobe.

    Add me to the list of folks who wanted a camera, USB, and SD options, by the way.

  6. Also a lot of videos on youtube have their audio levels set too low. How good are the speakers on the iPAD. It takes a good laptop before you have enough power to crank it up to an acceptable level (unless you use ear buds). So how good are the speakers. That is vital if you are watching youtube videos.

  7. Won’t change the way I watch video, since I can’t watch video on the iPad, unless I get that video from the iTunes store. Talk about a monopoly. Apple is cutting out all third party video content owners by not supporting Flash or Silverlight. Short-sided thinking on their part but typically Apple mentality which is control everything, don’t open it up and for god sakes, don’t let any third party company try to distribute anything unless they do it via Apple’s platform AND device.

    • dan, you’re forgetting about streamed content that would work on the iPad, plus all the non iTunes store ways of encoding your own content.

      And yes, no flash certainly limits the options for streamed content, but doesnt kill the device. we already see sites accomodating the iPhone with specific links/feeds and i could easily see them doing the same for this IF it takes off.

    • Ryan Lawler

      I think what everyone is missing here is the opportunity for video monetization through apps, something that is already happening through the app store. (examples: MLB, NBA, etc.) So you might not be able to watch Hulu for free. But you might be able to watch it by paying $9.99 for an app. There are already some slick cable network apps out there; this could give them the ability to create subscriptions based on the platform. It might not be Flash, and it might not be free, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be attractive on the platform. Will probably follow up on this tomorrow.

      • No, I think we get that they are trying to create new methods of monetization. What I think most of us are trying to say is that that runs counter to Web culture. We don’t like it.

        Manipulating a fanbase with the word “magical” is no honest way to leverage a closed system.

  8. I agree that the lack of Flash is a drag, but I wonder if Apple is betting that their selling a gazillion iPads will speed up widespread adoption of HTML5 video.


    Bite Me TV

  9. I tend to agree with the other commenters. Apple looks like they’re going to force consumers to purchase movies/TV through iTunes or some subscription service to come later, but without Flash they are missing out on a huge opportunity. I think if they allowed Flash and put in a ATSC tuner, they could have owned mobile video for the next ten years, at least in the US.

  10. … and does the screen match the Kindle for reading books. Probably not based on the tech, but we need a first hand report before we can say for sure. Again, I am an Apple fan, but this one did not go out of the park as anticipated. Will it sell? Probably. It looks good and can do some of what the iphone can do, but the reality is that its a large ipod touch and definately NOT a large iphone which has more capabilities.