Apple unveiled a new video download strategy at the MacWorld Expo. The video download service builds on the Apple TV product, which has not seen nearly the success of its iPod and iPhone cousins. The new download options include 30 day rental of movies from all the major motion picture studios. The download service allows video playback on computers, iPods or iPhones for $3.99 ($2.99 for older titles) for a 30 day period. Viewers can also use the Apple TV set top box to download content direct to their TV. Apple joins a flurry of video download options. Netflix, in anticipation of Apple’s move, announced unlimited downloading of movies and TV shows to PCs for $9/month. Wal-Mart is also looking for a solution. And Amazon Unbox is a player in the video download space as well.
All of these players are trying to carve a niche out of the burgeoning video download business. Many bets are being placed on the Internet becoming a rival consumer distribution channel to traditional cable, DBS, and IPTV. Truthfully, the lines are blurring here. Some days you can’t tell the difference. The real issue may not be about Internet versus traditional distribution, but rather, consumer electronic and content partnerships versus traditional multichannel video operators. Both camps are busily building a model to deliver an entertainment experience that they hope will win consumers over. Can they co-exist? Maybe. They both have their own unique strengths. They will both continue to bring innovation to the marketplace and thus intensify the competitive landscape.