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I Want My iTV

I Want My iTV "We know that Apple has destroyed the music business, in terms of pricing, and if we don't take control they'll do the same thing on the video side," NBC Universal (GE ) chief Jeff Zucker told an audience at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications on Oct. 29.

Nonsense. Apple succeeded in creating a market where others had failed. At 99ยข a song, the "music business" is making as much or more per song than they make with CDs. Downloads have none of the costs associated with manufacturing physical CDs.

The "music business" failed to create an online market before iTunes, and failed to create viable alternatives after iTunes succeeded. Jobs created a viable market by offering a good deal to both consumers and producers. This is capitalism at it's best. Apple earned their money because Jobs is smart, and did the right things.

Zucker's comments could be more accurately re-cast as: "We know that Apple created a viable online music business, and we don't want him to do the same thing on the video side." After all, if this keeps up outfits like NBC might wonder if folk like Zucker are worth their salary.

This entire sideshow is so dreadfully predictable. The notion of on-demand video is not new - but for a long time the costs were too high. With cheap/fast hardware, common availability of internet connections, and dropping prices for bandwidth - "iTV" is possible now. The old models for video - created by then-current technology - are breaking down in the face of new technology. The existing TV/cable industry "channels" are about to become a lot less relevant. Eventually the "industry" will adjust to reality. Lots of folks getting fat checks off the status-quo will find their money has gone elsewhere. Outfits that figure out how to fit the new reality will do well.

The landmark will be the first successful video produced, marketed, and distributed entirely outside the existing TV/cable industry "channels". Distribution is currently possible but still awkward. It will take a little while for distribution - enhanced Tivo, or software like Miro - to become easy. My guess is we are looking at 5-10 years out. There is an outside chance (way outside) that the "industry" will get a clue, and with Jobs help could make things arrive earlier.