Site icon Jake Ludington

vidPod or vaporPod?

Speculation has been crowding the rumor mills and Mac websites recently regarding a video playback device supposedly in development, a sort of iVid, or vPod if you will. I have no doubt that Jobs has tricks up his sleeve addressing this particular issue and is just waiting for his trademark, “oh, and one more thing” line to drop it on us, his semi-suspecting audience. This is backed up by both Apple’s drive to begin selling music videos on its iTunes Music Store service, as well as the refusal of all 5 major music labels to comment on the issue. Often, a refusal to comment can be more darning evidence than any comment could be.
However, I don’t see a dedicated video playback device in Apple’s future. For one, they can’t afford to develop the technology and a whole new device, only to realize mediocre sales. Similar products like the iRiver are not exactly taking the world by storm. The Sony PSP is primarily a gaming device and can be used to play movies, but will never take the place of a home theater system. On the road, in the car with nothing better to do, maybe. I’ll still bring my laptop to watch a movie in the car, however. I don’t even watch movies on my computer, because even a 17″ CRT is too small to get the full effect, and this issue is why I believe the speculation is wrong. Music doesn’t have to have a screen to be enjoyed, just a pair of headphones. Video playback on the other hand is a medium where the mantra, “Bigger is better” definitely holds true. Watching a blockbuster movie on a 2″ screen, no matter how cool the device is, is not going to convince me to drop 299 hard-earned dollars on a gadget. That is not to say Apple is not going to put out a video-screen iPod for watching music videos, but with Jobs’ characteristic reticence, he will wait to see if the video store explodes before committing his precious resources to such a shaky venture. It would be a foolish investment from a purely business standpoint, as cost analysis would be no more than speculation, something his board of directors have historically been loath to embrace. They got rid of him once for being too radical, and although recently he is the prodigal CEO, he still answers to his stockholders, and until he can show them the money, a vPod will remain on the drawing board. [Britt Godwin]

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