Are Amazon and Real one-upping Apple?

Are Amazon and Real one-upping Apple?

Summary: Twice this week, I've engaged in conversations about Apple missing the boat on potentially sweet markets that would have fit right into its iTunes growth strategy.The first conversation came after the release of the Kindle-DX, which apparently has a pretty healthy legion of fans who are big on e-books.

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Twice this week, I've engaged in conversations about Apple missing the boat on potentially sweet markets that would have fit right into its iTunes growth strategy.

The first conversation came after the release of the Kindle-DX, which apparently has a pretty healthy legion of fans who are big on e-books. I posted an entry earlier this week that said - for the money - Apple's iPod Touch is a better buy than then Kindle but readers were quick to defend the Kindle.

E-books aren't on iTunes - unless you count ebook apps, as well as a Kindle app, for the iPhone and iPod Touch. Steve Jobs didn't see the potential. in a blog post I came across this morning, author Mike Elgan said Jobs got it all wrong about e-books and linked back to a New York Times interview with the Apple CEO in early 2008. Talking about the Kindle, Jobs says:

It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore. Forty percent of the people in the U.S. read one book or less last year. The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore.

A lot of my readers this week would strongly disagree with that statement.

My other conversation about Apple missing the boat came yesterday after Real Networks reported pretty dismal first quarter results. It was during a call with analysts that CEO Rob Glaser talked about a forthcoming product, code-named Facet. It a nutshell, it's a digital video jukebox for the TV, a device that will include RealDVD technology.

You may recall that the RealDVD software, which is under lockdown pending the outcome of a lawsuit with the Motion Picture Association of America, allows for the "ripping" of DVD movies into a computer or other devices. That ripping technology appears to be a part of the new device - according to references to it in court documents. (See image)

Real's Facet sounds a lot like AppleTV, a WiFi-powered digital media jukebox that plays back content that you purchase or rent, as well as your own video ciips, Apple continues to treat Apple TV as a "hobby" product, though it recently acknowledged some interest in the movie rental business.

Also see: Analyst: 6.6 million AppleTV units in 2009; an Apple-connected TV on the horizon

But Real has one up on Apple in this game - the ability to upload copies of the DVD for playback on a number of devices. Once I thought about it, I realized that Real's DVD-ripping technology is something that Apple should have come up with and put into iTunes. That's where everything else is, including the digital tracks of my CD collection that iTunes allowed me to rip.

I don't know that Facet will be able to gain much traction as a hardware device. Another box connected to the TV is a hard sell. Still, side-by-side against Apple TV with the DVD ripping technology - assuming Real wins the lawsuit - Facet with RealDVD puts Real ahead of Apple's offering.

Closing arguments for the preliminary injunction hearings in the Real-MPAA case will be held later this month.

Topics: Mobility, Amazon, Apple, Hardware

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21 comments
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  • yeah but...

    "A lot of my readers this week would strongly
    disagree with that statement.[that people don't
    read any more]"... do your readers have any
    stats to back up their assertion? i bet Steve
    Jobs does..

    iTunes doesn't have DVD ripping ability because
    it's illegal... remember.. that's why Real is
    in court.. they are very obviously violating
    the DMCA... is apple smart or dumb for not a)
    breaking the law and b) pissing off its content
    providers?

    i think this whole article is just WAY off base
    in every way imaginable!
    doctorSpoc
  • I think that similar products have been

    waiting for the outcome of that lawsuit involving the MPAA and Real. Honestly who wants to incorporate DVD ripping software only to be sued.

    While I see the point of the suit, the problem is that people are allowed to make a copy of the movies they purchase for archival purposes, but none has any software out there so that a user can make copies for archivals. And for the very reason that Real is being sued.

    But even with such devices as mentioned, should manufactures be able to make them without incuring the wrath of the mpaa, I think that there would be several that would want to make similar devices, such as Sony, Panasonic, and others. It is probably such a thing that companys have these things as a back burner project, but are waiting the results of the lawsuit.
    xXSpeedzXx
  • If Kindle were the huge success its fans say it is

    Amazon would be bragging about sales numbers instead of
    keeping them secret.
    frgough
    • This is a non-sequitur ...

      There are many reasons why keeping sales numbers a secret from their competitors gives Amazon a greater business advantage than the short-term marketing effect of releasing big sales numbers gives them.

      What Amazon understands, probably better than any other company on the planet, is the market around selling books. Sony, from a marketing perspective, is in many ways on a much steeper learning curve with its eBook store than Amazon is with Kindle. Learning means wasted spending. Giving any information to the public that can help Sony (and sales information certainly would) is not in Amazon's best interests, particularly if sales in this space are a tight race.
      RationalGuy
      • What a load of gibberish

        The only business advantage for keeping sales secret is to pretend they
        are higher than they actually are, precisely to discourage people from
        jumping to your competitor.

        Kindle has a loyal fan base, and that's good news for amazon. The fact
        that Amazon keeps sales figures secret means it's a small fan base. Deal
        with it.
        frgough
  • RE: Are Amazon and Real one-upping Apple?

    **ARE** Amazon and Real....


    I dont know, but to me that sounds like really poor english..

    should it not be

    **IS** Amazon and real......

    It would not bother me, except these people are paid for quality writing ,, right !!! ??
    Aussie_Troll
    • No, you're wrong.

      Try this: "Are you and she going to the store?" Are you sayng that it
      should be "Is you and she going to the store?"

      Look at it this way: "Amazon and Real" = They. "They are..."
      msalzberg
    • No, it should not be...

      Seriously, English, whether it be the Queen's English or some variation... Look into it. The only way "Is" would be appropriate is if it was asking a specific question about ONE entity, the moment they bring up multiple entities it becomes "are". "Is Amazon one-upping?" Would be appropriate, "Is Amazon and Real one-upping?" is nonsensical and bad "engrish"...
      J242
  • RE: Are Amazon and Real one-upping Apple?

    >>"Another box connected to the TV is a hard sell."

    This quote is not quite as bold as "People don't read." I think, however, you will find it as myopic.
    gwthomas
  • The Apple fanboyism is makes want to hurl...

    Apple should do this, they should do that, they are perfect for this, they are perfect for that. Apple found a niche in media devices that play music and audio, they didn't find the holy grail.

    "The whole conception is flawed at the top because people don?t read anymore."

    That alone says it all. Apple fits in a narrow market, their products will never be "do everything" solutions. Get over it.

    The iPod does not have an eInk screen and it doesn't upload DVD's. All it does plays music and show tiny videos on a tiny screen. Just because it does a good job at that, doesn't mean it can do everything.
    T1Oracle
    • I agree Apple shouldnt try to do everything

      Focus on doing a few things really well.

      I think Microsoft would be in much better shape today if it didn't dabble in all of these different markets. (search, music, online services,etc)
      otaddy
    • I agree...

      I pretty much get tired of it. If they didn't do it tough luck and cover the company that did. Why does the other companies coverage have to come from the standpoint of how Apple missed out?
      storm14k
    • I'm confused...

      "That alone says it all. Apple fits in a narrow market, their products will never be "do everything" solutions. Get over it."

      How is a system that allows multi-boot options (without hacks to bypass TPM verification and whatnot that is) out of the box only fitting a narrow market? BMW fits a MORE narrow market than Kia does, but you get what you pay for...
      J242
    • Food for thought...

      [i]Apple should do this, they should do that,
      they are perfect for this, they are perfect for
      that. Apple found a niche in media devices that
      play music and audio, they didn't find the holy
      grail.[/i]

      The reason for the Apple speculation should be
      obvious. Apple is one of the few companies
      that actually "get it" when it comes to user
      interface and industrial design. There are
      many people (like myself) that consider the
      Kindle to be a piece of crap. The concept is
      fine, but the device is bulky, the user
      interface is poor. The eInk technology
      probably isn't the way to go - it's slow, no
      back light and color eInk is apparently still
      problematic. That limits the Kindle to being a
      one trick pony and that one trick it doesn't
      even do that well. When you look at the iPod
      Touch, one has to wonder what at 10" multi-
      touch screen device would be capable of. It
      would surely put the Kindle to shame and few
      other companies have the means to produce the
      kind of device that Apple can produce. That's
      the reality and that's something that
      apparently you'll need to get over.

      [i]"The iPod does not have an eInk screen"[/i]

      You say that as if it were a problem. It's
      not. If anything, eInk is holding back the
      device from being more of an all purpose
      device.

      [i]"and it doesn't upload DVD's."[/i]

      Really, is there anyone that doesn't know how
      to do this? There are commercial products that
      easily do this and there are free products like
      Handbrake which do the same thing. Non-issue.
      Further, lets see how far this RealDVD device
      goes from a legal perspective before we praise
      the product. Adding this feature is trivial,
      but few are willing to fight the legal battles
      that are lining up. Manual workarounds for
      DVDs to upload are trivial.
      techconc
  • Handbrake

    Does any Mac user with a DVD collection not know
    about Handbrake? Handbrake is a freeware solution for
    ripping DVDs that comes with presets for AppleTV
    (which I don't own) and iPods? It's also ideal for
    making backups of DVDs so that when one travels (a)
    one doesn't have to take along the actual disc and
    risk leaving it on the plane (a a friend did) and (b)
    running the movie off the HD takes less battery power
    than running the DVD drive. (My apologies if I sound
    like an ad...I just like the software)
    Perhaps Apple can't incorporate this approach into
    its hardware/software at this time because of the
    risk of lawsuits such as the one mentioned in the
    article, but that doesn't mean that Mac users are
    missing out.
    UGottaBKidding
    • and then there is also MetaX...

      of which handbrake will open automatically at
      the end of a rip... and that at the click of a
      button adds all the appropriate meta data from
      a database of submissions to the file i.e.
      movie art work, movie rating (R, PG, etc),
      director, actors, screen writer, plot synopsis,
      chapter labels and thumbnails etc

      there is also, mac the ripper, ripit etc

      i have a 250 disc library (~1.5TB) of DVDs that
      i own that i have stored on an external drive
      that i stream to my appleTV.. streaming option
      gives limitless storage capacity.

      so if apple adds it or not for me is really
      neither here nor there for me... whether Real
      wins there law suite is likewise really neither
      here nor there either... appleTV users are not
      limited by this in the least.
      doctorSpoc
  • Steve's Statement Is Misdirection.

    Steve's statement is misdirection. "Forty percent of the
    people in the U.S. read one book or less last year" translates
    into "SIXTY percent of the people in the U.S. read two books
    or more last year."

    A fact which he knows quite well, thank you.
    zhmlco
  • RE: Are Amazon and Real one-upping Apple?

    No way dude, it'll never happen. Not in a million years!

    RT
    www.privacy-web.net.tc
    RTTECH82
  • RE: Are Amazon and Real one-upping Apple?

    I think Apple is much smarter Sam Diaz. Sam should stick to
    product reviews and stop thinking he is smart enough to
    predict what a company should do.
    Bob Trikakis
  • Apple could wait, then buy Real

    Have you checked out Real's market cap lately? It's about $330 million.

    So Apple or anyone else who wanted this technology could wait for the
    legal dust to settle, then roll out their own... or just buy Real's solution
    for a few hundred mill.
    cypherpunks@...