Apple’s latest attempt to conceive in the living room has all of the tawdry drama of Charlie Sheen and a Las Vegas hotel suite full of hookers. Unfortunately, both fields of endeavor, though they have been so regularly plowed, are equally unlikely to result in a crop. Other than rumors that is and today’s spin on Apple vs Hollywood can be summed up in two words — Cloud DVR.
Wall Street Journal has put some flesh on the bones of the “Apple’s talking to the cable companies” news. Whereas yesterday’s story was about the current hockey puck Apple TV, either whole or reduced to an HDTV component, today’s details are a good bit more interesting — call it Cloud DVR:
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company proposes giving viewers the ability to start any show at any time through a digital-video recorder that would store TV shows on the Internet. Viewers even could start a show minutes after it has begun.
Skip the intro and pre-roll? Sounds interesting, but such features are just nibbling around the edges of what people really want — a TV show and just the show without prevarication (i.e. advertising).
But, there is more to Apple’s Cloud DVR pitch to cable operators and, it’s worth mentioning, pretty much anyone that will listen — content owners are also said to be on the receiving end. Which makes you wonder if Tim Cook et al — Apple’s CEO has reportedly been making the rounds — are trying for a grand bargain:
Some of the features Apple has discussed are improvements, but not radical changes, to those already available. For instance, Apple wants viewers to be able to access all episodes of current seasons of TV shows, whereas existing video on demand services from cable operators generally often offer only a few episodes of a current season. Apple’s proposed device would also provide access to older seasons of shows, which are already available through Apple’s iTunes media store.
That is more for consumers and this Cloud DVR would, one presumes, be served via Apple’s growing stable of iCloud server farms — California and North Carolina online with Nevada and Oregon coming soon. Cupertino is getting ready, regardless of their chances of consummation.
That said, cable operators and content owners have shown again and again that they are more interested in short-term profits. Their false scarcity calculus — coming to DVD, Blu-ray and iTunes soon (Netflix not so much) — demands $80, $120 or $200 a month for the right to watch Two and a Half Men reruns and Snooki live out her sadly compelling life trajectory.
Seriously, I really think Charlie Sheen would work for a pack of ‘Boros and a few (generic) ‘scrips. Snooki, maybe two packs of whatever her baseline addiction is — everything else is just window dressing to keep the lawyers happy.
All snark aside, does Apple stand a snowball’s chance in post-warming Jersey of getting a deal?