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Just in Time For 'Hannah Montana'

I'm not a reflexive technophobe or a Chomsky-quoting art school washout (more of a Sam Kinison plagiarist here, minus the beret). But it still beats the pants off me why anybody would want to watch a movie on a device smaller than a laptop.
I'm not a reflexive technophobe or a Chomsky-quoting art school washout (more of a Sam Kinison plagiarist here, minus the beret). But it still beats the pants off me why anybody would want to watch a movie on a device smaller than a laptop.

My inability to comprehend isn't stopping Apple from adding memory to its consumer goods.If you were too busy getting to your polling place today or watching the stock market tank again, you may have missed Apple's announcements, perfectly captured as usual by Dan Lyons.

The new iPhone has double the memory at 16 GB and is priced at $499, only $100 more than the 8-GB model (and still cheaper than the original iPhone priced at $599). The world's most unspeakably cool consumer electronics vendor also boosted its iPod Touch to a sweet 32 GB for $499. Their release may have something to do with the delayed introduction of Apple's iTunes movie rental service, now expected at the end of the month.

What leads me to that dubious conclusion? I pulled out my iPod after reading about this and checked how much of its capacity I've used. It's an 80-GB hunk of gleaming metal. I've copied more than 200 CDs on to it and supplemented that with quite a few iTunes purchases and podcasts. At barely 9 GB consumed, I've put a small dent in the capacity.

So how big is a feature-length movie? This article pegs a two-hour movie at about 4 GB. It's unclear if that includes deleted scenes, voice-overs by the caterer and key gaffer, or the "High School Musical VII: The Remedial Years" screensaver.

Which takes me back to my original diatribe. Teenagers, business travelers, and the "highly mediated" apparently will watch something -- anything -- on a screen smaller than a Post-it. I don't get it, but then I would have never guessed people would actually use their cell phone dial pads as a keyboard from which to send messages, either.

Whether I'm the target demographic or not is less important than Apple's larger agenda here: To break open the film distribution system. The iTunes movie rental store will look more like Blockbuster or the PPV part of your cable menu to start. But in time (three to five years ... sooner?) this could easily be how a lot of moviegoers consume first-run films.

So maybe it's an iPod or a TiVo box or a laptop where the media's stored. As long as it's plugged into a drive-in movie-sized HDTV flat screen -- nothing beats Kinison screaming in high-def.

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