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Posts Tagged ‘Comcast’

images1.jpegEarlier this week, I posted a brief history of Apple TV from concept (iTV), to initial release (1.0) to the update announced last week at Macworld (2.0). Today, I’ll look at what Apple got right, got wrong and what lies ahead for Apple TV.

The full post is after the jump.

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Half full: Movie rental downloads in iTS. Half empty: Only two of five major studios are on board — not enough to justify buying an Apple TV and dropping Netflix or Comcast.

Variety says Steve Jobs will announce Jan. 14 in his Macworld keynote that 20th Century Fox and Disney movie titles as pay-per-view downloads in iTS. Terms: $2-$5 for 24-hour viewing. Variety says Sony, Universal and Warner Brothers are not involved in the announcement.

PPV downloads have been a long time coming for Apple so this is definitely good news, but I’m only shrugs about the whole movies-over-the-Internet deal until there’s a critical mass of content available for my HDTV. I’ll grant that Apple TV is a great delivery system for such content, but I’m not ready to pay $299 for a set-top box that is less capable than Comcast On Demand and still needs an Internet connection.

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images1.jpegI have a love/hate relationship with my Comcast DVR.

It allows me almost complete freedom to set my own viewing schedule, but it screws up a lot. I mean, a lot. “The Office” often records with bad, echo-y audio or no audio at all. Three straight weeks, “How I Met Your Mother” recorded only about the first five seconds of the episode. “Cold Case” doesn’t adjust for football overruns.

And tonight — oooooh, I’m still steaming! — tonight I turned on the TV at 8:34 and discovered that “Dancing With the Stars” was not recording at all. I have it on a season record, and it has recorded every episode this season until tonight. So I only got to see the last two and a half dances. (According to Television Without Pity, I didn’t miss much.)

All of which makes me wonder: When is Apple going to have “The Office,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “Cold Case,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “Ugly Betty,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “Pushing Daisies,” “Project Runway,” and everything else I watch available for download for a monthly price that is competitive with Comcast? Why hasn’t Apple TV become a Comcast killer?

There are technical, pricing, strategic and marketing reasons, but the biggest reason is content. The guys in charge of NBC Universal, CBS, et al., are a bunch of boobs; instead of continuing to nurture an iTunes Store that helped establish “The Office” and revive “Scrubs,” NBC made “a relatively easy decision” to pull out of iTS and put shows on NBC Connect, Amazon Unbox, and soon (with FOX) Hulu. The CBS, ABC and FOX versions are somewhat better but still limited by the fact that they require you to watch TV on your computer.

I want to watch whatever I want to watch whenever I want to watch it. Any season, any episode. On my HDTV and in HD. Without waiting 45 minutes for it to download. Even if it’s live. Oh, and movies on demand. Every movie. And I thought Apple TV would have begun to deliver on that fantasy by now.

The iPod works because it delivers a lot of music in an intuitively designed little box. The iPhone works because it added a great phone to that little box. The Mac line works because iLife is super cool and computers don’t have to be hard to use. But Apple TV, as Tom Krazit says today in his One More Thing blog, has fizzled for lack of delivering on the implicit promise of what you would expect from Apple-meets-TV: “The ability to watch anything I want, whenever I want it, without having to pay for all the useless channels I never watch.”

There’s still time. Apple’s relationship with Disney would be helpful in launching a rumored digital movie rental service. I would welcome subscription-based access to downloads of ABC’s full network lineup that would allow me to watch the shows on my computer, iPod, Apple TV, etc., the same night they show airs — or, heck, before the show airs. Most of what I watch is on ABC anyway, it would be great for brand reinforcement, and it provides a model for other networks.

For tonight, though, I would have been happy just to see the first 34 minutes of “Dancing With the Stars.” And I’ve really been wanting to catch “Dexter,” so that would have been nice too — Season One from the beginning. And then maybe the episode of “The Office” I missed last week.

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