The Internet is a bit abuzz this morning with Apple’s announcement that they had sold one million videos in about 20 days since the launch of the video iPod.
Color me skeptical about how meaningful this really is. Having been involved with digital video over Internet since it’s inception, and closely involved with the leading video services on the Internet, I continue to doubt whether watching video on small screens (either iPods or mobile phones) will ever become a significant, mainstream activity. Music on portable devices has exploded because the sound quality is hardly affected; carrying your iPod around is not dissimilar to carrying around a decent stereo.
Not true with video content. It’s just not at all like the experience of watching on a television. Of course there are some scenarios where the quality of experience is less important, and portability trumps: say, getting news immediately, wherever you are; or watching music videos (especially if you’re a teenager); or some forms of viral video. But I think these are all likely to remain non-mainstream experiences.
Distribution of TV programs via DVD will be the mainstream experience for the foreseeable future. A far more interesting, and beneficial, product from Apple would be a service and hardware combo that allows me to get DVD quality television shows downloaded to my computer, and then relayed via Airport or Airport Express to my television. Lot’s of hacks out there for this now, and talk about how to use the Mini. But a simple product that works out of the box combined with quality programming would be a huge step forward, and much more important than what we’re seeing with the video iPod.