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Apple fans laud Disney deal

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Letters Poor old Apple. The Guardian newspaper suggests that after yesterdays' movie service launch, Steve Jobs needs "a charisma download". That's harsh - Apple did the most important thing it needed to do yesterday, and make its iPod cash cow a lot more attractive - with plenty of time before Christmas.

But it's the movie deal that has brought out the faithful.

Apple is "following a Buddhist philosophy: A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," suggests reader Nik Heger.

Actually, Nik, that was someone much more in keeping with Apple's corporate management style: Mao Tse-tung. [Or just about any dead Chinese prophet apparently - Ed]

"The thing about iTV is - it fits the digital hub. Perfectly. The Mac is at the center, providing data," writes Oliver Brose.

"Ewwwww I do loath reading your Apple stories; they always remind me of an angry old man ranting about the Germans and the war well after half the country's execs now drive BMWs," writes Julian Alex.

Best not to start with such analogies to market share, sir, although I have done my best to raise it over the years, at great personal expense.

"As usual, you're a complete tool when it comes to writing about Apple, and choose in true British tabloid 'red top' style to bask in the glory of the sound of your own voice, irrespective of whether you are missing the bigger picture or not.

"Have fun watching your Betamax collection. Remember, technically it is superior to VHS after all. Bugger DVDs! New fangled nonsense."

And enjoy those 75 Disney movies, Alex. You're not alone - here's a deliriously happy Apple punter:

If Apple were to put the back catalogue of Disney movies and Walt Disney cartoons on iTunes - all the classic Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck shorts - it would be a helluva market, never mind the rest!

Joe Gillespie

Sorry, Oliver - the Mac isn't at the Center. The iTV will do what Microsoft's Media Center once did, and beam your photos, music and screensavers over to your HD-TV. And we know how well that fared.

The "data" that matters - the stuff Hollywood guards very closely, because this is what the mass market pays a lot of money to get - is coming down your cable or satellite feed. Kaypro 10 and Osborne Executive owner Gabriele Bozi has a history lesson, and a welcome sanity check:

Now onto some serious points.

A good piece and, most of all, a welcomed rare mention of an ancient OS like CP/M, even properly spelled (can anyone ask more than this?).

I only have to express my doubt about the fact that Apple saved the world from DR's command-line operative system since Apple's first attempt to introduce a visual metaphor on a computer happened to be the launch of Lisa in 1983; at that time CP/M was beginning to fight for his life against MS-DOS 2.0 (which introduced the revolutionary concept of directories!!). CP/M might have been killed already by his command-line sibling and by the diffusion of IBM clone computers.

Indeed, during CP/M roaring ages, the Apple II sported a CP/M card from Microsoft (not to mention countless clones).

It is my humble opinion that Apple might have succeeded to save us from the command line at a later stage but what came after is no better option. Apple is surely to blame for what computing has become today since they released at the time a superior product (based on somebody's else ideas) but they also allowed faulty derivatives to catch on thanks to short-sighted marketing vision and awful execution (incidentally bad execution created also a fetish cult about the platform).

Maybe it is the fact that Apple has never developed in-house any of the concepts that characterised their product (they where great shopping around for new ideas but, to my knowledge, no seminal concept came from Apple itself), maybe it is the monstrous ego of their <strikethrough>GOD</ strikethrough> CEO but It seems to me that they struggle a lot now to find a way out of “point and click” past glories concentrating instead on adding a YARM (Yet Another Remote Control) in our living-room as your article suggests.

Unfortunately remote controls and Televisions have been already invented if I remind correctly.

It would be great if Apple, or another company, could one day introduce a new metaphor that would again change the rules and force those 21st century CP/Ms to move on or desist. We need this to avoid computing being relegated in the domestic appliances corner along dish machines.

Quite an old-school chap, he?

The remote control has indeed been invented - too many times and badly. If Apple could permit us to put the five we have in the bottom drawer, and replace it with one, I'd happily pay for another piece of Apple kit. That would mean controlling the HDMI ports.

Can Apple do a universal remote? Or will BabelBox hackers beat them to it?

Comments from your humble reader:

- Sure it's more expensive than a rental, but you are buying it. - Only first releases are the high price - but comparable to buying the box without the hassle. Older releases are 9.99, which seems to me a pretty reasonable price for owning a flick. - Surely prices will come down and studios will be added (info from a friend in the industry) - I believe the movies will play on Apples as well as PCs that have iTunes and Quicktime installed... no issues with hardware? But true they will only play on iPods (until someone hacks for other PMPs) - Inferior quality, perhaps, but you know as well as I that most people are satisfied with this sort of thing. - Downloads take 1/2 hour but you can start -watching- your flick one minute into the download (Quicktime's Fast start feature).

I was in France this morning and heard some stuff about Amazon beating Apple to the punch both in terms of timing and number of studios. I do, however, feel it will be difficult for studios to remain with Amazon when Apple with their iPod install base and 'caché' will be there for their distribution pleasure. I think it will be hard for them to ignore.. Maybe you could go down to L.A. and talk to them for an interesting piece on their ideas about digital distribution?

Remember as well: When ITMS first launched, the offering was paltry. When it revamped with the television offer, again - thin offer.. Both categories ramped up pretty quickly. I suspect we'll see the same now that the floodgates are opened.

On this article, however, my opinion differs from yours. "You say ....predicted that "the movie studios will play along, too". We now know they won't - or only their terms."

If you look at how Apple and the studios "worked things out" on the tv show side, Apple started out with a very limited offering. However, as it became clear that there was significant demand in the tv shows, more and more studios got on board. Today, all or most studios are on board.

Why should it be any different with iTunes? If Disney owned movies begin to sell at a rapid pace, it is a virtual guarantee that the movie studios will jump on board. And most likely, on Apple's terms.

With the mass popularity Apple is enjoying in the US, it is more than likely that the movie download service will begin to sell like hotcakes.

And what better incentive for consumers - and by extension, the network providers - to shell out for faster broadband connections than a new service they want? It is backwards to think that people first demand faster broadband before they demand a service that needs it.

Anyways, I've always enjoyed your writing.

Keep up the good work!

Regards,

Antti

Perhaps Apple will manage what they did with TV shows (which are made by the same Hollywood companies as movies quite frequently)... It took two months (as their graphs showed) before they had more than 5 TV shows (and 1 network)... I'm sure Hollywood will be watching to see how successful it is - if its a big success then all it needs is for one more studio to jump on the bandwagon and they'll all jump. The showing of the iTV box was a sweetener for this - showing Hollywood that theres a bright light at the end of the tunnel...

Of course, it could be a big flop... I don't think the video quality is a big issue for many people - after all I know many people who spend much of their spare time watching terrible quality YouTube videos...

Ed


Angry fellow Paul Brown has a couple of good points, which he signals with " A few small FACTS for you"

1: Apple launched the TV service with 1 network and 5 shows. Less than a year later, 200 odd shows an 40 TV networks. The same thing will happen with the new movie service and you're a fool if you think otherwise.

2: Blockbuster Rentals are just that. You have to give it back when you have watched it. A purchased movie from iTunes is yours to keep and watch whenever you like.

3: DVDs (in NTSC format) are VGA resolution at standard 4:3 ratio. Yes the movies on iTunes are slightly inferior in quality, but if you're bitchin about a half hour wait time i can imagine you would be incandescant waiting for a full quality dvd rip to download from iTunes, or for that matter anywhere else...

4: As stated above i have an iPod that doesn't play video. Didn't stop me downloading a movie though. I also had no trouble playing said movie on my PC. Hardly "Apple's proprietary hardware" is it? Btw, Mr Windows fanboy, when was the last time you played a Microsoft DRM encoded "plays for sure" track on a Apple Mac? be sure to let us all know how you managed it, eh?

Apple's DRM is still DRM. But at least you can play any of it on any machine (Mac or PC) that runs iTunes. When the "iTV" comes out you will also be able to play it all on your TV. Streaming from either a Mac or a PC. So again, not really "Apple's proprietary hardware" as you try to make out.

And some not so good ones.

5: Show me a PC for $299 that comes with Windows Xp Media Center edition, Antivirus Software, Anti-Spyware software, large HD, lots of memory AND a graphics card and processor capable of showing HDTV resolution H264 video files that doesn't need a keyboard & mouse along with a huge remote to work it (not to mention keep it updated with the latest "security" patches) AND yet have half the usability factor of the little box that Steve talked a little about today...

Um, unless there's an embedded version of iTunes running in that there set-top box, Apple's project codenamed iTV, aka still needs a Mac...

Starting at $599...

And i'll show you a man who doesn't know what he's talking about.

Er, moving swiftly on...

Hope springs eternal. Keith McQueen is one of several (but not that many) to make the value case for VGA movie downloads"

Apple offers movie downloads in the range of US$9.99 to US$14.99. I suppose I don't really know what DVDs cost in the UK, but where I live, it is difficult to find a DVD for less than US$25.00. One may find used or less desirable titles for the Apple price but that is still the exception and not the rule.

Thanks, all. ®

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