Five more implications of Apple’s recent iPod and iPhone announcements

I’ve had a lot more thoughts on Apple’s recent moves since last posting. None is quite enough to post individually, but they seem to make for a decent set of thoughts.

There has been a wide range of prices thrown around as possibilities for a new pricing structure for television shows on iTunes. Prices from $0.99 to $4.99 have been quoted. I have only seen the prices reported at their face value and only compared to $1.99 for the existing standard definition purchases. Has no one else considered that $0.99 might be for a rental, and higher prices might be for High Definition?

Incidentally, people should not forget that HD television purchases have had an established price for nearly ten months: Xbox Live has offered 720p download purchases for $3.00 since last November.

Mike Lee’s rant on the entitlement people felt on hearing about Apple’s iPhone price drop was amazing, and expanded on my initial reaction perfectly. That said, Apple’s premeditated response was perfect. I also see it as being a

  1. one-time benefit to early adopters of any of Apple’s products (“This is life in the technology lane.” In other words, “I hope you’ve learned your lesson.”), and
  2. the product of a wide-ranged sociological experiment. (Would users take this sort of price drop? No? Okay, we’ve learned a lesson.)

Perhaps it was enabled by – or even the reason behind – Apple selecting a subscription financial model for the iPhone.

I am a bit stymied by the specificity of the naming of the “iTunes Wi-Fi music store.” At first, I got it: Apple’s not going to deal with delivery over the mobile telecom networks, and they’re not dealing with video. Fine. It’s verbose, but clear.

On second blush, however, I wasn’t so sure. Why couldn’t this be used for purchases over the AppleTV? The same underlying model (and controller) surely would serve the AppleTV’s interface equally well. In fact, the seven major store headings (“New Releases,” “What’s Hot,” “Genres,” “Featured,” “Top Tens,” “Search,” and “Downloads”) line up fairly well with the YouTube interface headings (“Featured,” “Most Viewed,” “Most Recent,” “Top Rated,” “History,” “Search,” and “Log In”).

I would have thought the ITunes Wi-Fi music store was a sure sign that similar functionality was coming to the living room. Perhaps it is, but under a different name: “iTunes AppleTV store.” That gets around the music-or-video question as well.

Last week, I had thought the iPhone’s closed API was because of the the mobile carriers. Apple didn’t want to come up with a guaranteed API until it had all of its carrier agreements down, and there was no chance of the carriers pushing to have their own applications on the Springboard. Independent reverse-engineering and programming has been allowed because there’s little chance of it appealing to institutions. Thanks to Ben Metcalfe, I now think that the iPhone interface may never be “open” in an official way:

Dave Winer has a good observation:

Scoble wants an SDK so developers can create cool iPhone apps. Of course I do too. But I doubt it’s going to happen anytime soon. Look at all the deals they can do if they don’t. Starbucks wouldn’t need them if there was an SDK. And Tulley’s could do their own, as could Peet’s, and Whole Foods, etc etc. Apple wants all that business, I’m sure. And they want to be able to sell Starbucks an exclusive. They couldn’t if there was an SDK.”

When he announced the iPhone, Steve Jobs said there would be no SDK because you could do everything you needed to in a web-browser/web-development environment. Clearly that’s not the case - the Starbucks’ widget is not something that the rest of us can implement.

It’s bad enough that users will be forced to have Starbucks marketing on their iPhone/iPod Touch screen. It’s a kick in the face to have built that with hidden functionality that goes against the previous ideals that were made about openness of the platform.

Apple may well be trying to be the new “orifice” here, via its Applications and unique partnerships, to displace the mobile carriers’ own entrenched positions.

Well, I’m glad I still own some Apple stock.

I also noticed the iPod TV-out picture suddenly got more complicated. The new iPod nano and the iPod classic will not output video to the television without a (new) cable or accessory including an Apple authentication chip.

Could this be the start of Apple’s (public) implementation of a “secure signal path” for the purposes of complying with Digital Rights Management requirements of High-Definition video content providers?

Also recently: iPod classic vs. Flash, Where’s the HD?, iPhone vs. iPod touch, and Technical feasibility on HD delivery.