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Video iPod May Find New Fans
November 9, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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Apple has maintained an impressive success story with its iPod MP3 player. By far the most popular of MP3 players, its popularity has been greatly aided by the billions of files traded over P2P networks every month. The 600 million or so DRM tracks downloaded off of iTunes since 2003 hasn’t hurt much either.

With the flop of Apple’s mobile music venture with Motorola (dubbed Motorola iTunes ROKR), Apple has been anxious with the deployment of their fifth generation video iPod MP3/video player. The news so far has been very favorable. Preliminary reports suggest the video iPod has been outselling the iPod Nano in some stores, while the complimentary video iTunes store sold over 1 million videos in 20 days.

However, the iTunes store resides on the fringes of the digital entertainment world. Secondary to free P2P and file-sharing networks, iTunes is far behind in terms of total users, simultaneous users, and available files. Having an iPod that can play videos is a neat perk, but the availability of files from the iTunes video store remains comparitively scant. Video iPods have been selling very well, largely due to their 30-60 gigabyte capacity, but their full video potential remains locked.

Much like P2P networks have helped boost the popularity of MP3 players, a new genre in BitTorrent indexing sites may launch the video iPod into the stratosphere. Bringing video iPod sharing into the mainstream is Podtropolis.com.

Podtropolis, as its name suggests, is an iPod-only BitTorrent indexing site. Like most BitTorrent sites, Podtropolis has a variety of genres such as music, movies, music videos and TV programming. Yet the most interesting aspect of Podropolis is the selection of videos for Apple’s fifth generation player. Each and every torrent file available is specifically designed to operate on the video iPod.

As it currently stands, the video iPod is only compatible with the MP4, M4V and MOV video formats. If one were to peruse a typical file-sharing or P2P network, few files of this extension type exist. The more likely scenario is XviD AVIs, full DVD rips or other ISO images. Obviously none of these files will function on the video iPod. With a tight lock on digital rights management, many individuals looking for video portability have perhaps become deterred by the video iPod.

The situation in the P2P world hasn’t been excessively inviting to the video iPod either. Scant video iPod resources exist that could easily appeal to the masses. In addition, converting one’s DVD collection to an iPod complaint video is a daunting and time consuming task. The individual would need to convert the DVD to an AVI file. Then convert the AVI to a MOV file. Then upload the MOV file via iTunes. Such a task, which requires atypical computer skills, potentially shuts out a great number of potential video iTunes customers.

Podtropolis, and perhaps its future competitors, eliminate this lengthy step by indexing video torrents already compatible with the video iPod. The only wait time is the time it takes to download a file from the BitTorrent community. Absolutely no time wasted on encoding video files, as there are plenty of individuals who have already preformed this job.

While file-sharing may help boost the sales of Apple’s new fifth generation iPod, there may also be a return benefit. Apple projects to ship over 37 million iPods in 2005. Although second and third quarter sales were weak, it is expected the introduction of the iPod Nano and the video iPod will make up for any lost ground.

Although a good portion of potential customers will head to the iTunes music store, a substantial number could help bolster the file-sharing community's population and resources. This scenario will be especially true if the video iTunes store remains weak compared to the burgeoning iPod file-sharing market.

As the entertainment industry spends considerable time on determining exactly how they will distribute video content, file-sharing once again finds an answer well before hand. With an abundance of individuals interested in video portability, the emerging video iPod file-sharing market holds the potential to duplicate Apple’s previous success.


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Authorized Music Store :: iTunes

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