According to a report by Concord Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo relayed by AppleInsider, Apple may not release an updated model of the Apple TV in the third quarter, instead focusing on software updates to extend the AirPlay features of the device and make it compatible with the upcoming next-generation iPhone. Earlier this month, AppleInsider reported they had been hearing rumors of a new HD+ format for movie content set to bring full 1080p capabilities to a version of the Apple TV. Such new Apple TV, according to “people familiar with the matter”, would run Apple’s latest A5 chip to bring the necessary horsepower to play 1080p movies without playback issues. However, if Ming-Chi Kuo’s industry checks are to be believed, it appears Apple may instead roll out new version of iOS for the Apple TV, rather than a hardware refresh.
Looking ahead to the second half of the year, Kuo said his industry checks have turned up no evidence that Apple plans push a hardware revision to the Apple TV into production during the third quarter. Instead, the Cupertino-based company will reportedly take a more measured approach to advancing the platform in 2011, relying instead on an Apple TV Software Update this fall that will allow devices such as the iPad 2 and upcoming iPhone 5 to beam their content to the big-screen.
Apple doesn’t disclose exact sales numbers of iPod touches and Apple TVs, but Ming-Chi Kuo believes the company sold approximately 480,000 units in the second quarter. In the past months, the second-generation Apple TV has proven to be a successful “hobby” for the company: whilst Tim Cook at the Q3 earnings call said they still don’t consider the Apple TV “another leg of the stool”, in the first three months of availability the Apple TV sold over 1 million units, with allegedly 2 million units placed by April 2011. Meanwhile, similar Internet-connected devices failed to capture the attention of the market partly because of non-competitive prices and lack of streaming features – whereas the Apple TV can stream movies and TV shows using iTunes, and can be integrated with iOS devices thanks to AirPlay. Apple is indeed baking a new feature into iOS 5 that will allow users to beam the full contents of an iPad’s screen to the Apple TV, thus making it an interesting solution for wireless gaming and business presentations. Most recently, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said the Apple TV was “more important” for them as Netflix keeps expanding to new devices, and an experiment by Mac Mini Vault successfully managed to host a webpage on a jailbroken Apple TV 2nd gen.
UPDATED: Included a discussion on various sales taxes to clarify some of sections of the analysis, also corrected a mistake regarding Denmark prices.
For those of you who aren’t located in the United States, Wednesday’s news of Apple re-adjusting their prices in the App Store for international stores might have been pretty big news. For many the headline was welcome news, indeed when I woke up Thursday morning and saw they had finally re-calibrated the iTunes ‘exchange-rate’ I was pretty happy about it. We first discussed the great disparity in global iTunes prices back in January and I was pleased to see Apple eventually act and restore some fairness for international consumers.
Unfortunately I soon figured out it wasn’t all good news; Apple had only adjusted the iTunes ‘exchange-rate’ for apps. For their other stores such as for music, movies, TV shows and books the prices remained unchanged. Nonetheless I have revisited my January analysis, updating that data and doing some further analysis of what the price changes actually bring, what it means for individual countries and who is better or worse off.
After today’s press release that confirmed Apple will hold a WWDC opening keynote on Monday, June 6, to officially unveil Mac OS X, iOS 5 and iCloud, Cnet reports the launch of the new cloud service from Apple next week may see a last-minute surprise that will make movies and TV shows available on the online “locker”. No details on how users would be able to upload, stream or purchase films and TV shows they don’t own have been posted, but it sounds like iCloud would provide a solution to store files on Apple’s servers to stream them later to a variety of devices.
Feature films could be part of Apple’s iCloud launch next week.
In the past several weeks, Apple executives have stepped up their attempts to convince some of the major Hollywood film studios to issue licenses that would enable Apple to store its customers’ movies on the company’s servers, two sources close to the negotiations told CNET. Apple began discussing a cloud service with the studios over a year ago.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
Cnet also reports content providers and Hollywood studios will be harder to convince than record labels and publishers, mainly because of the deals that in the US tie some studios exclusively to a cable company that airs films and shows. For instance, Warner Bros. Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and NBC Universal have an exclusive distribution deal with HBO that would prevent Apple from making their films available through iCloud immediately. As Time Warner’s CEO Bewkes (Time Warner is parent company of HBO and Warner Bros) has made several positive remarks on the new Ultraviolet video standard in the past, however, industry sources claim a deal with Apple and other cloud services could get done, and the exclusive HBO deal reworked to accommodate more distribution methods.
So if Bewkes is a believer what is the holdup? Film-industry sources have say that there’s nothing to worry about, that a deal with Time Warner to relax the HBO window will get done. But can something be completed before June 6?
Whether it can or not, Apple could still roll something out with the other three studios that are without HBO blackout agreements: Disney, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures.
Apple has officially announced the iCloud name today, referring to it as “upcoming cloud services offering” that seems to suggest it will go beyond music to offer a broader set of tools for online sync and storage. With the launch of the Apple TV 2nd-gen last September, Apple began offering rentals from ABC and Fox at $0.99 only through streaming, as the Apple TV doesn’t allow for local movie storage.
With rumors floating around about Apple’s upcoming cloud music service (especially after last night’s report on the company signing a deal with EMI) and others like Google and Amazon moving forward on the streaming bandwagon with products to upload and stream music at any time with smartphones, tablets and desktop web browsers, subscription-based payment systems are often seen as the only feasible solution to guarantee a continuos cloud service without interruptions, always available anywhere you go. Just like Spotify and Rdio let users stream large collections of music they don’t necessarily own by paying a monthly or annual fee, Apple is rumored to extend the iTunes subscription system it created for magazines to music, movies, and a combination of both for the ultimate iTunes Store cloud experience. But just how much are phone and tablet people willing to pay for these new cloud services based on subscriptions? That’s what research firm Nielsen takes a look at in its latest survey, asking users of “connected devices” how much they would pay for media subscriptions that would give them access to a variety of content on their mobile devices.
It turns out, music, movies, magazines, books and TV shows are something people would pay for – sure, there are different results, but take a look at the graph above and you’ll see that these 5 categories are the ones with less orange, which stands for “not willing to pay.” On the other side, sports content, streaming radio and news are something people would be less prone to subscribe to. Overall, the sweet spot for subscriptions seems to be around $4.99 - $9.99 per month, which is what most cloud services ask for these days. There’s an interesting difference about music, however: people would pay for “downloaded music”, and not for “streaming radio.” Assuming “downloaded music” stands for “music you own”, and people care about having online access to music that’s ultimately theirs, services like Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music Beta should be exactly what people are looking for, as they let you upload your own music to the cloud. Also assuming Apple is working on a similar solution, this survey suggests the company should allow for both uploads and Spotify-like streaming, enabling users to lock their own collections in the cloud, and get access to stuff they didn’t buy as well. Maybe that’s what these deals with music labels are all about.
Tablet and smartphone owners with proper Internet access on the go are willing to pay for online media available through apps, and if that’s their own media, there’s an incentive to subscribe. A report in the past weeks suggested Apple was considering offering a free initial trial for its new cloud music service, with a $20 yearly subscription once the demo is over.
In spite of previous rumors suggesting Sony would never consider releasing an iOS app again after the rejection of their eBook reader application a few months ago, the company pulled the trigger today on the official Crackle app for iPhone and iPad. Crackle, a growing digital entertainment platform that offers movies and TV shows from Sony’s library (including series from Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Classics), allows you to stream content over WiFi and 3G, it’s universal and has “unlimited, on demand viewing.” Crackle, however, is only available in the United States and with “selected content” to viewers from the UK, Canada and Australia.
You can browse by Movies, TV shows, Originals and Genres, or build your queue to organize the content you want to watch later. The design looks decent from the screenshots, and there are some sharing options as well. Alternatively, you can buy movies and episodes on iTunes with the tap of a button.
You can find Crackle in the App Store here. [via Cult Of Mac]
In the sea of App Store releases and updates, it’s easy to get lost and forget about that great app you used to love. New apps come around, better alternatives for just about anything are provided by developers and, especially if you’re geek, you know what it means to constantly tweaking your workflow to accomodate the latest offering in the iOS or OS X panorama. In the past week, I’ve rediscovered an app I had for a long time, but somehow managed to leave unused in my iTunes app library: Air Video.
I’ve always been a fan of Air Video and have been following the development (and updates) closely. Yet, for the reasons mentioned above, during the past months I kind of forgot how useful this app used to be, and how greatly it could improve my media consumption experience. So when the iPad 2 showed up at my doorstep and the thinner design made it crystal clear that it was easier (for me) to hold with one hand, I remembered about Air Video. And I’ve fallen in love with it all over again. Read more
Back in November, IMDb released an improved version of its official iOS app introducing a major redesign and several new functionalities like ratings, entertainment news and international showtimes. Today IMDb is releasing another update to the app, which reaches version 2.1 and adds several new features like the much-requested AirPlay compatibility.
The IMDb app can now beam movie trailers from your iPad or iPhone to the Apple TV, or to another iOS device using an app like the AirTuner receiver. Being AirPlay one of consumers’ favorite features in the latest versions of iOS, it’s nice to see IMDb has adopted the streaming technology as a way to share content in a local network. IMDb 2.1 also improves several aspects of the previous update: there’s a ratings history menu now that lets you see all the movies and TV shows you rated on IMDb and entertainment news have been improved to display more content.
IMDb 2.1 introduces a watchlist to keep track of the movies and TV shows you’re interested in: from now on, instead of maintaining a text note with the shows you want to follow, you can just do it with the Watchlist on the iOS app. This update brings other enhancements as well, such as search results as-you-type and possibility to purchase movie tickets in the US, UK, Canada and Spain.
IMDb for iOS is available for free in the App Store.
As announced in a press releases earlier today, Apple has just released the new iMovie for iPad. It is available now in the App Store at $4.99 here. iMovie is a universal app for iPhone 4 and iPad 2, a free update for existing customers.
iMovie for iPad takes where the Mac and iPhone versions left off to bring a powerful yet easy to use movie editing experience to the iPad, deeply based on multitouch technology. Users of iMovie for iPad can easily import their photos shot on the iPad 2, or iPhone or iPod touch (or any other camera) through the Camera Connection Kit; movies recorded at 720p through the iPad 2’s back camera can be accessed from a Library popup menu to start editing right away. With a split-screen interface you can visualize the movie you’re editing in the top section, and manage or trim video and photo segments in the lower part of the iPad’s screen. You can pinch to zoom to additional parts of a video, use the precision editor to adjust videos with accuracy.
You can import songs from your iPod library to use for background audio, or use the built-in effects in iMovie. You can share videos on the web through Facebook, Youtube and a variety of other services, beam your creations to the Apple TV via AirPlay, or simply export to iTunes.
Go get the new iMovie 1.2 here. Read more
Why Do Movie Trailers Debut on Apple.com?
If you’ve ever wondered why so many movie trailers become available on Apple’s website and not anywhere else, the answer is provided on Quora by a former Apple employee. It’s got Star Wars in it:
He also mentions the Akamai distribution technology (a little startup at the time) made the difference when talking to movie executives and showing them the speed and reliability of Apple’s network. Plus, the webpage design is also pretty sweet these days. [via]