Friday, January 18, 2008

Did Apple just kill Cable TV?

[As I mention in my Internet Evolution posting the Internet is like a slow moving glacier, inexorably and relentlessly crushing the carrier walled gardens. Innovation, at the edge, continues unabated. The latest Apple announcements are just further examples of this inevitably. The smart carriers will realize that they will no longer be the customer facing organization. That will belong to Google, Apple, Facebook and a host of other entrepreneurial companies. From a posting on Dewayne Hendricks list--BSA]

Carrier walls are a tumblin' down*
*with apologies to John Cougar Mellencamp

Last night, as I watched Steve Jobs announce movie rentals on iTunes and re-launch the Apple TV, it dawned on me that Apple has just driven a stake into the heart of the cable TV industry. The speed of cable TV’s demise will depend on how fast Apple can get films and TV shows from all over the world on iTunes.

Using the Apple TV box hooked up to your flat screen TV monitor, you can watch any content from movies to TV shows to YouTube videos, Flickr photos, video podcasts, your own video clips, anything you want.

So why should anyone continue to pay money every month to a cable company (and rent a set top box) to watch the same movies and TV shows that are on iTunes? It does not give you access to YouTube, video podcasts and other content on the Internet. You can’t watch your cable company’s offerings on your iPod or laptop while you are in an airplane.

What gets me really excited is that iTunes could be the repository of films and TV shows that we never see on cable, in the cinema, or in our video rental stores: older films, movies made by independent film makers in different countries, TV shows in other parts of the world, and documentaries. Just look at the video and audio podcast offerings on iTunes. They even have iTunes University where you can view physics and English literature lectures given in top universities in the US.

When I watched Steve Jobs give a demo on how easy it is to rent and download a film, I’d say people-friendly video on demand is here.