Why Apple’s New iDongle Will Fail
Google Video could be headed to Apple’s iTV TechCrunch has a post out saying that Google is reportedly in talks with Apple to allow Google Video to work with the new iTV widgety thing that I’ve decided to call the iDongle. You remember the iDongle of course — that little gadgety thing that Apple thinks they will be selling for $300 next year.
I previously wrote about the $300 iDongle here suggesting that someone needed to check Steve Job’s pipe because he’s probably pretty high if he thinks people are going to pay $300 to have the privilege of buying less than DVD quality movies at $10-$15 each when you can get a monthly subscription to Netflix for far less than the cost of two movies a month from Apple.
So will Google Video become the long tail savior for the $300 iDongle? I don’t think so. You see the problem has to do with people’s expectation of picture quality and Google’s picture quality sucks. Can Google Video be successful on a PC? Sure. Can it be successful on a handheld device or laptop or even a cell phone? Probably. We’ve grown to accept mediocrity in terms of picture quality on the PC, cell phone, handheld device, etc. But YouTube, Google Video, and the whole host of other companies can’t afford to store and serve HDTV content yet and this is what people want on that new fancy plasma sitting in their living room.
Now I know what some of the Appleheadish types will say. C’mon it’s Steve Jobs. He’s a marketing genius. If anyone can do it Apple can do it. Apple is so damn cool it makes me want to melt down in a puddle of tears as I weep translucently at how amazingly magical their ultra hip marketing department can name things. How nobody cares about HDTV and how people will accept inferior sound quality over at iTunes, so why not with movies.
Let’s talk more about picture quality. First off, there is a much more perceptible difference between standard definition TV and HDTV than there is between an iTunes file and a CD track. Our eyes in general are more acute sensory tools than our ears.
If you let someone hear a CD track and an iTunes track and ask them to rate each on a scale of 1 to 10 you will get very little difference between the two. If you show someone a show in HDTV though and then in non HDTV you will get a much wider differential.
Second, people are all about what is sexy with their plasmas. Seriously, CES was out of control this year when it came to HDTV sets and HD and Blu-Ray DVDs. In fact I’d go so far as to say that in my opinion high quality content and the sets that show it where the number one thing going at CES back in January. It may feel like early adopter stuff still, but take a walk through Costco and you will see that HDTV sets are selling like hotcakes.
Third. More and more HDTV content is being produced and delivered every day. And with HDTV PVRs from TiVo and soon Media Center and even cheapo PVR HDTV offerings from the cable and satellite boxes, there is going to be a lot of competition in the “what should I watch on my fancy new HDTV set” sector.
By the time Jobs and Co. get around to actually releasing the iDongle (even if they don’t have HDTV sets yet) people will not be that interested in paying $300 for something that won’t do HDTV.
Note to the Appleheads. While Steve Jobs may in fact be a marketing a genius there comes a point when Eskimos will no longer buy ice. $10-$15 for a poor picture quality movie is a bad deal. Yes, idiots overpay for things. Yes, there are a lot of idiots out there and yes Steve Jobs may be able to use the Obi Wan Kenobi trick voice with some, but I predict this thing will flop hard. You read it here first.