August, 2011

How Apple could disrupt the TV business

Digital Living Room With the news last week that Apple is pulling the plug on 99-cent TV show rentals through Apple TV, the tech media has again been ablaze with speculation about how Apple might still do unto the TV business as it has the music and mobile phone businesses, complete with a reappearance of the zombie rumor that it will introduce an App Store-enabled Apple HDTV set sometime next year.

As I noted in my last post, however, the TV business has thus-far proved remarkably resistant to disruption, the sine qua non for Apple to invest seriously in the market. The networks and cable operators successfully resisted Google TV’s bid to disaggregate the TV bundle with search technology, as well as Apple’s efforts to drive down the price of  accessing TV content on Apple TV. As I noted yesterday, I’m skeptical that Apple’s introducing a different form factor — a 42-inch display  instead of Read More »

Apple still searching for a way to disrupt the TV business

Online Video The TV business is proving remarkably resistant to disruption. Google tried it, with Google TV, which met with disaster (Google is getting ready to try again, this time in Europe). Apple has tried it more than once but has yet to find a way to disrupt the TV content value chain to its own advantage.

Apple’s most recent bid — 99 cent TV show rentals through Apple TV set-tops — has proved a bust. On Friday, while most Apple-watchers were still buzzing about Steve Jobs’ decision to step down as CEO, the company quietly announced that its nine-month experiment with low-cost rentals would end. Read More »

Court makes a hash of online storage

Copyright Most of the initial post-game commentary on the U.S. District Judge William Pauley III’s long-awaited order in the  MP3tunes case (embedded below) has focused on the court’s finding on whether the online music locker service qualifies for the safe harbor protections in the DMCA, and its implications for other would-be cloud storage services (basically it does qualify, according to the court, although both MP3tunes and CEO Michael Robertson personally were found liable for contributory infringement, which is not covered by the §512). But the ruling’s most lasting impact may come from Judge Pauley’s almost cursory dismissal of the record label’s public performance claim. Read More »

Ripping yarns

Copyright The British government on Wednesday released its long-awaited set of proposals for updating U.K. copyright law for the twenty-first century. Sort of.

The actual report (PDF) might best be described as notional, or perhaps aspirational — a set of ideas the government is publicly endorsing but with formal legislative language to follow later, sometimes much later. In some critical areas, in fact, the report manages to raise more questions than it answers.

One such area concerns format-shifting, or what the report calls “private copying.” Here’s what the report has to say on the matter: Read More »

Zediva: The gift that keeps giving

Copyright If I were running the MPAA I might secretly offer to fund Zediva’s appeal of the federal judge’s order yesterday granting the studios a preliminary injunction against the DVD streaming service, if only to get its central holding affirmed by a circuit court. Apart from the order’s immediate effect of shutting down Zediva, the case could prove very useful to the studios (as I noted in a previous post) and the broader its legal authority the better.

The ruling is a complete victory for the MPAA. Citing case-law, Congressional committee reports and statutory language going back to before the 1976 Copyright Act, U.S. District Judge John Walter makes mincemeat of Zediva’s arguments that its service comprises anything other than an unlicensed public performance of the studios’ copyrighted works, as both a factual and legal matter. Read More »

Oops; looks like the iCloud will be televised after all

Digital Living Room Looks like my confident claim last month that “The iCloud will not be televised,” was bunk. Apple released a software update for Apple TV today that adds limited iCloud support.

Apple TV owners will now be able to watch TV shows they have previously purchased from iTunes through the set-top box. The content will be stored remotely in iCloud instead of on the Apple TV device itself, which has very limited on-board storage. Ironically enough, the new Apple TV feature is actually the first implementation of iCloud, as the audio service hasn’t actually launched yet.

Users can also now purchase new TV shows directly through Apple TV for storage in iCloud. Previously, Apple TV was streaming rental-only. Read More »

Asking a lot of the audience

Movies At Fortune magazine’s Brainstorm Tech conference last month, Dreamworks Animation head Jeffrey Katzenberg offered a rare admission for a Hollywood mogul.

“Let me have a show of hands of people that would say the last seven or eight months of movies is the worst lineup of movies you’ve experienced in the last five years of your life,” Katzenberg asked from the stage. “They suck.  It’s unbelievable how bad movies have been, right?”

The problem, in Katzenberg’s view, is too much marketing and not enough storytelling. Too many movies, he suggested, start out as a marketing plan, and only then do the filmmakers try to back into a script

“Today the thing that is probably most askew in Hollywood is the issue of marketability versus playability,” Katzenberg said. “There is this sort of unholy alliance that has existed forever between art and commerce, show and biz.  And today it’s out of balance and it’s too much on the biz, and it’s too much on the commerce and it’s too much on the marketability. Read More »