Apple’s real iPad focus: TV

Steven Colbert with an iPad.The iPad may have been sold to the world as the device that will save publishing, but Apple has shown its real focus now that we’re just weeks away from release. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple put the publishing content on the “backburner in favor of focusing on other content,” like a subscription-based television service.

Apple wants to make a sort of “best of TV” bundle available for a subscription fee, as well as offering episodic downloads for a dollar. Content providers have been wary of making any deals, likely because they’re afraid of getting burned like the music industry. Now that we’re years into the digital music business we can see that things haven’t been all bad for the labels, but there are probably some things they wouldn’t have agreed to if given the chance again.

It’s looking unlikely that we’ll see anything by the time the iPad launches, which leaves Apple in a position it knows well – using sales figures to produce contracts. The iPad has already had some nice presale figures. Once version 2.0 rolls out you can bet we’ll see more widespread adoption.

What happened to iTunes LP?

iTunes LP content.Remember six months ago when Apple held an iTunes event just to announce iTunes LP, the premium content service that was supposed to revive the album? According to most reports, nobody’s buying LP. Not a person. It’s no surprise, really. The target audience is a bunch of audiophiles who likely buy physical media for quality’s sake and that unmistakeable pretense of being one of the remaining few to own that physical media. Your average iTunes customer just doesn’t care that much.

Granted, there are only 29 options if you want to buy LP content, so it’s not like the format has any serious support behind it. But why was LP created in the first place? Was it something the fans were really clamoring for or was it something the labels wanted so they could try to squeeze a little more money out of digital content. I’m gonna go with that second one.

Apple to drop TV shows to $1

iTunes TV programming.Currently if you want to watch a TV show from iTunes you’ll be paying two bucks per show. That’s just the standard def content – high def will run you an extra dollar per episode. Apple may be ready to change that, though, dropping the price of television content to just a dollar per episode with the potential for bundled services down the line.

The news comes courtesy of the Financial Times, which claims that the price change will come at the end of April to coincide with the iPad launch. The pricing shift would include a “best of TV” subscription service for $30/month that would potentially replace your cable bill. Oddly enough, it’s Apple that has left the Apple TV out of the discussion and not the media. Apparently the company is concerned with scaring content providers away from the lower prices once they realize that content could be viewed on full-size television screens.

Source: Gizmodo

Digital music price flexibility resulted in slower sales

iTunes sales slow with price flexibility.Warner Music Group delivered some interesting news in the wake of the Macmillan/Amazon standoff. When Warner was finally given pricing flexibility for its iTunes content last April it kicked off a slow decline in sales growth.

As Warner put things, year to year “digital track equivalent album unit growth” was down from 10 percent in the September quarter to just 5 percent for the December quarter. We can still blame the recession in part, but the decline didn’t begin until prices went up. As Peter Kafka at AllThingsD notes, the digital music business is much more mature than the ebook industry. Also, despite the decline in sales growth, Warner CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. said the change has been a net positive for his company.

Despite the warnings for publishers in this news, I still think the ebook industry is young enough to pull of the price increase without much negative impact.

Source: AllThingsD

iTunes Preview extends to iPhone apps

Apple iTunes 9.In November of last year Apple released a new iTunes feature called iTunes Preview. The service allowed users to preview the music available in the iTunes store without launching or even installing the iTunes software. It was a nice move, long overdue, and it’s now been extended to include iPhone apps.

Basically, any time you click an iTunes link for an app, your browser will redirect to a page that contains the standard iTunes information. You get screenshots from the application along with reviews, pricing, descriptions and ratings. From there you can click to view the app in iTunes and go through your standard download process.

I’m just glad I can’t be fooled into clicking those damn links anymore. It was so infuriating to be on a site and accidentally hit a link on my touchpad only to have iTunes blow up and start loading the app store.