The digital revolution has made comic book publishing a thing of the past. See and learn how virtual computer technology will revolutionize this field and allow every artist to have their fifteen minutes of fame.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Apple and the Future of Movie Downloads

In the mid-1990s, Time Warner spent $10,000 a customer in Florida to demonstrate that downloading movies over cable lines was technologically possible and feasible. In 2008, movie downloads are still stuck in the "proof-of-concept" stage.

Apple's announced plans last month for an online movie rental service could be the spark that sets movie downloads alight in consumers' minds but not because Apple is offering a fundamentally new twist on VOD; because because it's Apple.

The movie download market today is remarkably similar to where online music was several years ago when Apple launched its first iPod. Back then, MP3 players dominated the marketplace. But they were largely niche products and most music that was played on them was pirated. Apple created the first cool digital music player that people wanted to own.

Steve Jobs was also the first technology executive with the heft in Hollywood who could actually cut deals with studio executives to allow enough legal content online to create a marketplace and demonstrate that making money from digital music was not only possible, but practical.

In 2008, most consumers still aren't all that interested in cable companies' movie VOD offerings -- largely because the studios are so worried about piracy and cannibalizing their existing TV syndication and DVD businesses that they haven't supplied enough really good product to interest subscribers.

Movie downloads from services like Netflix and CinemaNow are still largely a curiosity for hobbyists and people who don't know how to download the pirated stuff.

Until today, Apple hasn't fared that much better. It's sold only about seven million movies, compared to about four billion songs and 125 million TV shows.

Jobs has once again persuaded the studios to make vastly greater stores of content available to consumers. In exchange, he gives the tacit promise that he can create enough of a market to offset the inevitable increase in piracy that will occur when millions of new consumers realize how easy it is to download and share movies on their computers, iPods and TV sets. (Just look at the movie piracy rate in Korea, which has the world's most ubiquitous broadband).

Apple's movie rental service could be exactly the spark Hollywood needs to jumpstart its online cinema business. Or the spark could become a conflagration that devours industry profits. Or it could flop once again, just as so many for-profit video-on-demand ventures have since Time Warner first dipped its toes in Orlando.

The only certainty is the movie downloads -- legal or not -- are here to stay.

Read More by Michael Stroud>>>

© 2008 iHollywood Forum Inc.


Post a Comment

<< Home