Apple: What are they thinking?

So, at this morning's Showtime Event Apple unveiled several things, most of which were expected. Notably absent: the rumored full screen video iPod.

At any rate, one of the things they announced that people did expect was the ability to download movies from iTunes. Good idea, poor execution.

You see, Apple set the price point for movies at $12.99 for pre-order and first-week sales, and $14.99 thereafter.

Visiting Amazon, it looks as though the average price of their top-sellers are around $17.50 now. Yeah, but you have to wait a few days for those, and maybe have to pay shipping. Visiting Best Buy, price points are all over the place, but I'd say it averages out to around $17 for normal DVDs.

So, for that extra $2-$2.50, you get the pretty DVD casing (meh), and the physical media. In addition, you probably get the extras that go on DVDs: deleted scenes, multiple languages, subtitles, outtakes, etc. Also, as part of your extra $2-$2.50, you get actual DVD quality (Steve Jobs said “near DVD quality 640×480″ for iTMS movies (and come on, 3:2 format?)). As a bonus for your hard-earned $2-$2.50, you also get real surround sound: Dolby Digital, DTS, THX. Steve Jobs says you get “Dolby Surround” – anyone that knows the difference between Pro Logic and Dolby Digital or DTS or THX knows that it makes a huge difference.

And seriously, I don't know when the last time I bought a DVD was. For $10/month, I get as many movies as the USPS can shuttle around with Netflix.

My point is: Apple had a huge opportunity to get a major win in this market, but they basically blew it.

(also of note: Steve Jobs didn't wear a black turtleneck!)

My other thoughts on the keynote:

  • gapless playback: about time.
  • games: not bad. Though the picture of Bejeweled saying “Just for iPod”? Funny, they must've missed Xbox Live Arcade's rendition of the same. Otherwise, the games hit list reads a lot like the Xbox Live Arcade line-up: Zuma, Hold-em, PacMan…
  • iTunes 7: woah, looks like the copy machines are going in Cupertino as well – a lot of these features are in the recently announced Windows Media Player 11.
  • NFL: Maybe interesting. At $1.99 per game, it's not badly priced. But, but there seems to be a catch: Steve Jobs says that “game highlights” are coming to iTMS — not the game, just a highlight reel.
  • iTV: Could be interesting and compelling. We'll see in Q1 2007. Potential to compete with what Windows Media Center and Xbox 360 already do, as well as what the Playstation 3 is supposed to do.