There’s been a lot of internet chatter about a possible refreshing of Apple’s TV box, much of it centring around a claimed name change to iTV, a price drop to $99 and the prospect of 99cent downloads for our US cousins, but surprisingly much less thought about where it fits into Apple’s wider ecosystem.
Until I bought my iPad my mobile video use consisted of nothing more hi-tech than sticking a DVD into my MacBook’s drive and watching on the bundled player. With less than perfect eyesight I had no interest in watching video on my iPhone and the portable DVD player I bought a few years back got given away a couple of months after I’d shelled out for it.
That changed – slightly – with the arrival of my iPad. Less bulky than my MacBook, I can see times when its ability to play video could be a useful way to pass the time and for that reason I spent a whole £7.98 on two series (the first runs of The Inbetweeners and Lewis should you be wondering) from the iTunes store.
My paltry sum will hardly have enriched Apple or the content owners (on the other hand, Apple have done pretty well out of me over the years), and that’s because there’s an enormous barrier to me buying videos from iTunes – portability.
Now, when I say “portability” I don’t mean to imply that I’m some wuss who finds the iPad impossibly heavy to cope with, I mean portability of the video content across devices.
Unless there’s an absolute bargain to be had I’m loathe to buy the same content twice for different devices – say for my Blu-Ray player and iPad – and I’m equally unkeen on having hours of content on my iPad which either can’t be played on my TV or requires me to hook up the iPad to the TV with an optional cable.
When you buy an ultra-portable tablet like the iPad you really don’t want to be tying it to your TV and losing the ability to quickly check your mail or share some riveting thought on Twitter.
What would be really handy is a small, cheap box which sat nicely alongside my Virgin Media STB and allowed me to share my iTunes videos between my iPad and TV without constantly plugging one into the other. And that’s where, for me, a cheaper version of Apple TV would make perfect sense.
It’d make sense for Apple too, the more places people can enjoy their purchases the more chance there is that they’ll spend the cash in the first place.
Of course, the ability to enjoy films away from the home is what Digital Copy was supposed to offer consumers but it’s not really delivered much to the average UK shopper who film distributers still expect to pay top whack for DVD and Blu-Ray releases – while often deliberately reducing the amount of extras on the DVD to make the Blu-Ray edition look better value.
We should know pretty soon whether any of the rumours were accurate – Apple have an event planned for next week where they’re expected to announce new iPods and maybe more – but it really is time for film and TV companies to accept the public just want to make a single, good value purchase and then be free to enjoy their movie or show wherever they like.
Had they worked this out years ago and responded accordingly they’d be far fewer discussions even on reputable sites about ‘ripping’ material for private use.