People on the internets have moved on from the Apple MVNO rumors, and are now working themselves into a lather over the prospect of a video iPod. Kicked off by an article in this morning's Wall Street Journal saying that Apple has held discussions with record labels over licensing music videos to sell through the iTunes Music Store, the story brought some fresh energy to the long-standing expectation that Apple would announce some sort of video player. The rumor is backed up by the usual logic surrounding potential Apple moves, like "Macs are great for audio and video", therefore a video iPod will be a success. While the product launch is a safe bet, the success of a video iPod product isn't, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost is content: will people really want to pay $1.99 for a music video? That seems doubtful. And given Hollywood's unwillingness to evolve its business models, it's hard to see many studios lining up to let Apple sell their movies. There's another problem, though: with iTunes, the expectation has been set that users can rip their own media and transfer it to their portable device. While Steve Jobs doesn't have any trouble shaking things up, it would be pretty bold, even for him, to give users an easy tool with which to rip DVDs and transfer them to a portable player. History's not on Apple's side either: video-centric portable media players haven't been a great success, and paid movie downloads have been a failure thus far too. A bigger issue for Apple is the form of innovation it's bringing to the iPod product line: while users may be buying iPod photos for their color screens and larger capacities, using them to actually view photos hasn't really taken off. With people clamoring for certain enhancements to be made to the iPod, like the addition of wireless capabilities, changes requiring a significant shift in user behavior -- like using an iPod to view photos or files -- are less than assured of success.
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