Apple, the Mac Mini and the Movie Download Business


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Robert Cringely, author of the well-known Accidental Empires has penned a recent column at PBS explaining exactly the why and the how Apple is preparing to takeover the movie download business.

The recent addition of iTunes' video features is a clue. Remember when iTunes was first released, it had that teasing - but meaningless - 'Shop for iTunes Products'. That was the music store in embryosis. Now Cringley thinks that some form of HD video - or half-HD, anyway - might be just the ticket for an Apple movie download service.

Remember, Cringely says, we're not talking lousy streaming here. We're talking about movie downloads. But it gets much more interesting than this.

For Cringely, the Mac Mini is the whole backbone of this system. And that's where iTunes and Airport Express come into the picture as well. Cringely notes:

"...the idea of Apple doing a video equivalent of its AirPort Express WiFi repeater that has audio output to link iTunes to your stereo system. This AirPort extension is the last piece needed for Apple's video service and answers a lot of questions. Why doesn't the Mac Mini have an optical audio port? Because the AirPort has one, instead. Why isn't the Mac Mini more powerful? Because it doesn't have to be. The Mini becomes a storage and downloading device and H.264 decoding is handled in the AirPort gizmo using one of the H.264 hardware decoder chips coming on the market for around $20."

What will happen? Cringely thinks it will amount to a 'takeover' by Apple of video and movies, in the same manner that it has dominated both music downloads, and the portable hardware people play their tracks on.

Appealing thought, isn't it?

With quality video + Airport + iTunes + your stereo system, would you bite? Does movie downloading have a (legal) future?