BetaNews | Apple Adds Media Center to New iMac Well it looks like there’s a new kid in town in the Media Center game and that Microsoft is going to have some company here very shortly. Personally I’m a little underwhelmed from what I’ve seen so far.
“A new application dubbed “Front Row” provides a 10-foot interface that lets iMac users control music, video and pictures while relaxing on a sofa. Text and graphics are enlarged for viewing at a distance.
The refreshed iMac comes also with an iPod-like remote control, which includes only 6 buttons and a slim design. In his keynote Jobs said the remote is much easier than Microsoft’s 40-plus button remotes designed for Windows XP Media Center Edition.”
According to ZDNet, “through the new version of iTunes, consumers will be able to buy TV shows, in addition to music. Shows available for purchase one day after broadcast will include “Lost,” “Desperate Housewives” and “That’s So Raven.” It will take 10 to 20 minutes to download an episode, said Jobs. Each will cost $1.99 and will be ad-free.”
I doubt this download service will replace our satellite, cable or OTA television. Will people really want to pay $1.99 additional for something that they can get for free today? It’s awfully easy to fast forward the commercials on my TiVo or Media Center PC. I’m not sure I see the competitive value there. Based on those download speeds also I’d doubt you will be watching these in high def. Why would I want to pay for a bad version a day late of a show when I can record it for no additional expense in high def today and watch it whenever I want?
JupiterResearch Analyst Michael Gartenberg expressed similar thoughts, “Why pay for an episode of Lost that I missed when I can just as easily watch it on my Media Center PC, stream it via Orb or Slingbox or copy it over to my laptop.”
Also, I’m sure Apple did their research on how to price their television downloads, but I’ve seen contrary opinions that seem to suggest that $1.99 is too high a price.
Television is a critical component to the media center computer of the future. It looks at least from early reports that television will not be a part of Apple’s media center computer. A huge mistake in my opinion and this will put this product at a competitive disadvantage to Microsoft’s Media Center PC. People want all media, not some media.
Steve Jobs in the past has been critical of television on a computer. Back in 2003 the following was reported by CNET’s News.com:
“Jobs said that he doesn’t see such products creating a big market.
“We’re not going to go that direction,” Jobs said. “There is a small audience that likes this.”
Jobs said there are several problems with the Media Center concept, in particular the wide divergence in the way people want to watch television as compared with how they use a computer. “Generally what they want to view on television has to do with turning their mind off,” he said.
Jobs said that video recording is processor intensive and is best left to a device that is not doing other things such as playing games or running spreadsheets. “When I want to record ‘The West Wing,’ I want to make damn sure it records ‘The West Wing,'” he said.
I’ll update this post as I learn more.
Update: Ugh! The monitor is the computer. Terrible. I don’t want to watch TV on this thing or even see my photos on there. Things look so brilliant on my 43″ HDTV plasma. Memo to Apple. People are buying big screen HDTVs. Very soon everyone in the world will have a plasma or something like it. People will not want these crappy expensive apple monitors in their homes. The monitor is the computer? Geez, welcome to 1988. 20 lousy inches is all I can get? From a media center computer? If people like watching video and media on a little screen so much, why not just bring back the SE/30 and put the platform on that? People will want their media center PCs to connect to a monitor that they already own or will buy, not one of these things. Especially at the high end. Even if this thing can do that, why make me pay for the built in monitor?
Update 2: Microsoft’s Charlie Owen: “Frankly, I’m underwhelmed — I really expected Apple to have much more to brag about, especially given their momentum with iPod over the last couple of years. Based on everything I’m seeing, Front Row doesn’t even have feature parity with the first version of Media Center released back in October 2002. No hint of a developer platform either — that’s a shame — I was really looking forward to dusting off my Mac coding skills again.”
Update 3: JupiterMedia Analyst David Card seems to think that they got the pricing right for downloadable TV.
Update 4: Paul Boutin over at Endgadget: ” TV shows on the iMac are a grainy 320 x 240 that looks better in a small window than full screen. It’s not a TiVo replacement, let’s be clear. It’s more like the BitTorrent copies of The Daily Show – a way to catch shows you’d have to miss otherwise, and definitely more reliable than streaming.” Ouch. No thank you.
Upate 5: Microsoft’s Matt Goyer chimes in. “They picked a way better name then us! (Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 Update Rollup 2 just does not roll off the tongue). Yes, their remote is a lot simplier, but they also have way less functionailty! It’s really weird they didn’t introduce this on the Mac Mini’s first. I’d be excited about the tv downloads if they were HD. The pricing is right though. PVR Wire: “From a PVR perspective, there’s really nothing to discuss, as it doesn’t have any video inputs or recording capabilities.”