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Predictable Mini Rumors


November 29, 2005 01:26 AM PST

Well it is that time of year again for more Apple rumors in advance of Macworld Expo. This one is pretty much the exact consolidated Mac mini wish list that was on like a zillion blogs the day the original mini was announced. See Think Secret.

Lets review shall we (before Cringley gets wind of this and somehow bends it into the worlds greatest conspiracy to take over, blah blah blah):

Intel processor (six months sooner than expected)
Front Row 2.0 (more goodies and assuming built in IR for remote)
tuner and DVR functionality
Built in iPod dock
Possibly larger

So is Think Secret right again? (For that matter, are they just Apples stealth marketing arm keeping up the buzz?) Or is it another I wish list? A larger, faster drive and a tuner card would be required adding cost and size. One thing though, if they did manage to pull of a Media Center PC style box for under 800 I think it would really give MS a run for the money. Ahh, how cool would it be if you could actually run MS MCE on it? Hmm. Back to reality. I predict that the next mini will certainly have Front Row 1.x and the IR port on it. But I doubt Apple is ready for full MCE functionality with tuner.

Comments (16)
Wheelson, December 1, 2005 01:37 PM:

What if rather than putting a Tuner in the Mini, apple came out with something likeiCube's Play@TV? If FrontRow 2.0 interacted with that type of device it would keep the price of the Mini down and allow DVR functionality with not only the Mini, but any Mac that had the juice to upgrade and use FrontRow 2.0. Then the feature is there but the cost is offloaded to the wireless device as an optional component.

J, December 1, 2005 07:28 PM:

That iCube looks a lot like the D-Link DSM-320. I think this kind of media front end is the way to go for a lot of things, and Microsoft agrees with the XBox360. Unfortunately the Xbox360 doesn't play divx/xvid, opening the door to other players. For that reason alone, Apple has a great opportunity to push the new MPEG-4 iTunes video content to the settop.

The other thing missing with these settop players is a lot of extensibility. Tivo is trying to do some stuff (they paid a lot for Strangeberry) with Java applets you can play on your TV to provide weather, news, etc. The 360 of course is extensible with downloaded games, and who knows what other "Live" services. (Why not a "Web 2.0 email app", that wouldn't be bad on HDTV rez".)

Hap and I talked about Apple developing a TV UI for media in '97, and it will be interesting to see when it finally happens. Fox is implying recently that they want to make their content available through Apple, so we might finally see some movement here. I don't think it's the iPod video alone that's getting all these media execs hot and bothered about on-demand.

I agree that the DVR and all that isn't the best thing to squeeze into a mini. I like the concept of mini as powerful front end, and you can either plug in a little tuner/hard disk module or access content over the LAN or WAN. This modular concept is also similar to the 360.

Regardless of the outcome, I'm probably going to remain unhappy, given that the set top choices will be Apple or MS - each very much into proprietary applications, content delivery and codecs. I guess that's the price you pay for not having to deal with the MythTV nightmare, and getting content providers to make stuff available to your platform.

John, December 2, 2005 01:14 AM:

Well the mini as a TV box has some appeal, but I really don't see it happening. People don't buy mini's for that. Consider the cost of a mini against that of the 360. Also the 360 has a real reason to be hooked to your TV, the mini does not. In fact since most people have POTV (plain ole TV), if you hooked your mini up to it you'd be hard pressed to even surf the web at that resolution. So in the grand scheme I think the 360 has the best shot at owning that space so far. I do agree it is a drag about the Divx support, but maybe one of the media center plug ins like 'my movies' will find a way to working this out.

J, December 2, 2005 09:47 AM:

I agree that the gaming aspect is a huge reason to get 360 in the living room. But Apple has what MS doesn't - the most popular online video and music store, and this makes them like a virtual DVR. I would actually rather just hook the iPod to the TV and leave the Mini somewhere else, but at this point the iPod is not really powerful enough to drive HDTV. The rumor is actually that the iPod will dock to the mini on the TV, which makes some sense as well.

J, December 2, 2005 10:15 AM:

More detail from ThinkSecret. Funny how we've gone from freely broadcasting television over the air, to encrypted pay per episode with the content trackable to the individual user.

What's going to happen to advertising? Let's say you can either buy the show with no ads, or get the show for free with ads you can't fast forward. If the distribution method makes the same amount of money from people or advertisers, they don't care which wins. If there aren't TV ads, that would be devastating to a lot of companies - there's only so much you can say on a google ad, and product placement doesn't work for a lot of products. I guess I could see the advertisers trying to out-bid the commercial-free costs "we'll give you $1.50 per episode NOT to show it commercial free" - but I'm not sure that consumers will tolerate that kind of price escalation for shows.

Another huge problem with all this on-demand stuff is that in many ways, the 90% of junk on TV subsidises via ads the rest of the content. If people stop surfing an start "season passes" for just a few shows, it totally changes the medium. I already use TiVo to just get specific shows and I skip the commercials, but what will happen when this becomes mainstream?

John, December 2, 2005 12:21 PM:

I have to comment on the above article. There is a nice quote: "at no time will it ever actually be stored on a computer's hard drive."

So the idea is just to stream all the content directly. hmm, while i think that ultimately that will be a good model - today no one has enough bandwidth for this to be realistic. When it comes to bandwidth the US is practically a 3rd world country. Even with Apples crazy patented caching scheme, I doubt the quality with be worthwhile. Consider that most DSL customers can only get 144k - 768k access (even if they are paying for more). Now consider the kind of streaming video you are use dto seeing on the web. Yuck.

J, December 6, 2005 08:51 AM:

Battlestar Galactica episodes are available for the iPod now. I personally think that $1.99 per episode is a little high, although I guess it is cheaper than the first season DVD set with the equivalent of 17 episodes for $44 ($2.64/ep). Of course the DVD contains special features, much higher quality and a non-proprietary format. For now, I'll be sticking to TiVo and the 30-second-skip button for commercials!

John, December 6, 2005 08:58 AM:

Also note that the DVD set's actual pricing will be determined by the market and is not fixed as the downloadable, single source, version is. There is no searching the web for the best price with when there is an exclusive download provider.

Paul, December 6, 2005 12:04 PM:

You dudes are looking at it wrong. I only get basic cable that comes with my internet service. While I'd love to watch Battlestar Galactica on TV, I don't want to pay for extra channels I'll never watch. Paying $9/month (4.5 shows per month x $2) for BSG is better than ~$30/month for the extra cable package.

At any rate, I'd still buy the DVDs when they come out regardless of whether I saw it on TV or iTunes... the show is that good.

John, December 6, 2005 12:09 PM:

Yes online vs. DVD is only one part of the argument. Choosing to download a show vs. subscribing to cable is a different one all together. at 1.99 an episode you will quickly spend that $30/month if you are interested in a few shows. Now consider if you had a wife and kids who also wanted to watch some TV shows.

Paul, December 6, 2005 01:02 PM:

Yeah, paying for downloads doesn't scale when you want lots of shows, but in my case, the fact that TV is such a wasteland works to my advantage... I only want one show.

Now, if I could subscribe (via iTunes downloads) to a particular show or bundles of shows and pay $x per season, that would be worth something. How much would you pay to have Firefly continuned? Or, another season of Farscape? Media producers would get a pretty clear and measurable signal as to what people thought was valuable.

Anyway, I'm trying to do more "voting with my dollars", and being able to pick and choose the video I want makes way more sense than broadcasting a cable full of junk reality TV at me.

John, December 6, 2005 01:34 PM:

Oh yeah, putting the power in the hands of the consumers would be great. I don't know what the break down is though of revenue they get from advertisers so it's hard to know how much they would have to charge us to make it worth their while. Heck yeah I'd pay good money for another season of Firefly. I don't even want to know what I'd pay for more Farscape, I'd probably scare myself. But overall, if everyshow goes pay per view, I think we'll get screwed in the long run.

Sniffy, December 6, 2005 02:12 PM:

Your posts about paying to resurrect Farscape remind me of the Futurama episode where the Big Green Alien Race from light years away, arrive at the planet Earth demanding more episodes of "Single Female Lawyer". The show has been broadcast time-delayed for 1000 years, due to the vast distance of space. Fry, Leela and the gang stage a final episode, with a budget of about a dollar and a half. Could that happen with Farscape? I'm thinking sock puppets and Lego spaceships.

Paul, December 6, 2005 02:42 PM:

What if there was an iTunes channel, and you subscribed for $30/month and could download the shows you wanted? I'd rock that up!

Paul, December 6, 2005 02:45 PM:

Has anyone been watching Nerd TV? I think it's sized to video iPod format...

John, December 6, 2005 02:45 PM:

Well I would expect higher resolution than 320 x 200 - that is sooo video CD. Have you seen Battelstar in HD?? They broadcast it that way in Europe and it is amazing. Simply amazing.

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