Apple’s secret weapon for 2007 isn’t OS X, the Mac, or the iPhone. It’s QuickTime and iTunes, Mac or Windows.
We consider both QuickTime and iTunes to be joined at the hip and Apple’s once and future Trojan horse. The latest version points to the future.
Apple’s latest releases of QuickTime and iTunes reveal more of where Apple is headed with both utilities—straight to the living room.
After all, Apple has used QuickTime and iTunes to conquer the portable music player industry, the legal music and TV show and movie download business.
What’s next? The rest of the living room will be run by AppleTV which is run by QuickTime and iTunes.
Back in late December I was given the task of looking at potential surprises at Macworld 2007. I’m not much of a prognosticator so what I came up with didn’t get much applause, though Jack told me it was a home run.
The Secret of the Digital Hub didn’t look like much of a secret to me, it was so obvious that everyone was oblivious to it.
The current versions of QuickTime and iTunes set the stage for AppleTV. QuickTime now has an added export selection—Export to AppleTV, which creates a high definition video with settings for your TV.
This setting gives 1280 by 720 pixel resolution, which is known as 720P, a resolution found on many of the newer flat screen TVs.
Apple uses the high res H.264 video compression setting which supports 720P playback at 24 frames per second, a frame rate used by movies. Typically, TV frame rates are about 30 frames per second.
That means about 1 gigabyte of hard disk space for every 30 minutes of HD formatted movie or TV show from the iTunes Store. As of now, Apple doesn’t have 720P TV shows or movies—HD content—in the iTunes Store.
Does that mean higher definition movies and TV shows are on the way? I’m willing to stick a neck out and say, “yes—but I don’t know when.”
The AppleTV specifications for media playback are impressive but not overwhelming. H.264 is as close to high high definition as the device will get. It’s your job to find the video media that matches the spec. And get enough hard drive space to store such high definition movies.
AppleTV synchronizes iTunes on your master Mac. Whatever is in iTunes will play from AppleTV to your high definition TV set via an Apple remote control.
It is in Apple’s best interest to provide access to high definition media via the iTunes Store. Lower quality media looks decent, but Apple appears poised to up the quality standard in the future.
Integral to Apple’s strategy for owning media in the living room is QuickTime and iTunes. About 100-million Windows users are familiar with iTunes, as are 10 to 20-million Mac users.
Compare those numbers to less than 15-million Windows Media Center PCs on the market, and Apple may have a $299 Trojan horse, built with QuickTime and iTunes inside.
What do you think? What quality video does AppleTV need for you to become a buyer? Will Windows users be early adopters? Share your persepctive in the Comments section below.