Because I’m a Risk Taker

I feel more comfortable hanging myself out in the wind over here on my personal site than my work blogsite. Normally, that’s where I’d put a post like this one, but there is just too much chance my speculation is wrong. So…regarding Apple’s mystery announcement planned for tomorrow, I’m ready to make a prediction.

For some time, I’ve suspected that Apple might have a an iTunes-like video service in the works. And that’s where I’ll place my bet on tomorrow’s announcement, a video service, perhaps with music videos, TV content, and video podcasts. I’ll go further and predict a video-capable iPod and (if Apple is smart) Mac repositioning around digital entertainment. 

Stepping back for a moment: Timing really bothered me about Apple’s event tomorrow. It’s been only about a month since the company launched the iPod nano. Why do another big product launch so soon? I wrote someone in an IM earlier today before Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings announcement: “If there are any areas of weakness, maybe with Mac or iPod sales, tomorrow’s event could be about new products in those areas designed to keep Wall Street from freaking out”.

As it turned out, initial Wall Street reaction wasn’t favorable to Apple earnings. Gee, I guess 6.5 million iPods sold wasn’t good enough for some financial analysts and investors. Excuse me, Wall Streeters, but you really should get a life.

Apple’s music player is the little engine powering earnings and the company’s soaring share price. I’m thinking that maybe Apple couldn’t take the risk that little nano would keep Wall Street focused on the big perspective. So, how could could the company upstage iPod nano with “One More Thing?” The long rumored video-capable iPod certainly might start some Wall Street faltering hearts to start fluttering again. Problem: video-capable iPod is an absolute non-starter without content.

Enter that video service, which could provide such the thing. Music videos would be a natural, since Apple essentially sells them now anyway and because of the closeness in kind to music tracks. Video podcasts would create a venue for extending Apple’s success with audio podcasts and establish a way of generating lots of fresh content fast. Mac users could use iSight to create video podcasts. Consumers also could watch their own content, such as videos from iMovie. Like with iPod Photo, users could watch those videos connected to a TV.

Apple also could tap other online sources of video, and there are plenty of those available. One surprising area could be television content. Didn’t UPN stream “Everybody Hates Chris” debut over the Web? So the idea of TV downloads from mainstream media isn’t novel. Scifi offers some “Battlestar Galactica” episodes streamed from its website. In May, Mindjack had a pretty good story on BitTorrent trading of “Battlestar Galactica” episodes boosting TV viewership. I wonder if Scifi just took advantage of a good thing.

Maybe Apple could do for video what it did for audio, with respect to offering an alternative to video file trading (a.k.a. stealing). I know people that would pay for old “Buffy the Vampire” episodes. What about educational videos from the likes of the BBC or National Geographic? There’s a school angle there.

Like iTunes, a video music store would have larger appeal than a portable device and create opportunity for Apple to extend the Mac’s entertainment value. Sure, there are a number of video services out there and arguably none doing so well on portables, let alone the desktop. Why should Apple do any better? That shouldn’t even be the question to ask of the company that made buying, consuming, transferring, and carrying digital music very easy. Apple wouldn’t do video without working out all the current kinks.

Of course, what makes sense to me might be meaningless to Apple. Even if I’m wrong about tomorrow, my reasoning is sound for why an iTunes-like video service and supporting video player would be sensible for Apple.

Photo Credit: Isabelle Plante