Thursday, January 08, 2004

Is video the next audio?

Maybe not (and never mind that the title really didn't make much sense to beging with).

In an interview with David Pouge (link to Mac Rumors article), Steve Jobs was asked about portable video players (video iPods have been speculated by some for a while now, though no rumors have ever backed such speculation up). Jobs said that he doesn't think video players will catch on any time soon, citing the fact that "there's no equivalent of headphones." He also pointed out that people watch movies differently than they listen to music, and that Hollywood already does a good job distributing content.

Steve brings up some good points about the cons of portable video players, specifically the tiny screen. One point not considered is the lack of available content for such a device. With music, you can rip a CD or download some songs (legally or otherwise) and toss them on your iPod (because you wouldn't have another mp3 player, would you?). Video doesn't work that way. There's no easy or practical way to get video off of a DVD, and there's no real movie equivilant of the iTunes Music Store. Sure, there's file sharing, but have you ever actually tried to get a TV show or movie through file sharing? It's very unreliable, downloads can take forever, and you've got no idea what kind of quality you're going to get until you actually open the file.

Steve ended up finishing his comment with a teaser: "Now, I'm not saying we're not working on something like that, Who knows what we've got in our labs?" But he does make a very well-reasoned case for Apple - and other companies - to not make personal video players (right now, at least). The first iPod wasn't introduced when mp3 players were really new, it was introduced when mp3 players were becoming big (and eventually, really big). Don't be surprised if Apple follows similar logic with any kind of video gadget.


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