Jun 4th, 2009
by Peter Burrows.
The blog TUAW is reporting that the new iPhone, widely expected to be announced during Apple executive Phil Schiller’s WWDC keynote on Monday, will be called the iPhone Video. The supposed proof is an alleged screen shot from an AT&T support website that listed “iPhone Video” as one of the iPhone modesl the carrier will support. Here’s the image:
While this could be just another rumor, this name would fit perfectly with what a source told me in late April: that Apple would differentiate the new iPhone by making it the first device that makes home movie-making mainstream. Here’s that post again:
Making Movies: The Next Big Thing in iPhones? Posted by: Peter Burrows on April 30
Think back to a time before iPods. Back then, digital music was such a hassle that few people bothered to buy portable MP3 players. Until Apple made it easy. Then came photos. Other than using snapshots as wallpaper on their camera-equipped cell-phones, few consumers bothered to keep all or even some of their favorite pics on a small portable device until the iPod photo was introduced in 2004. A year later, the “video iPod” became the first portable device on which most mainstream consumers would even consider watching a TV show, video podcast or the occasional movie. And since the iPhone debuted in 2007, tens of millions of people think nothing of downloading an e-book, using GPS maps to find a desination, or watching YouTube clips on their phone.
Now, I think we’re about six weeks away from the next big thing. At long last, after decades of having to mess with camcorders and cables and PC video editing software and hard drives, my gut tells me Apple will make the iPhone a one-stop studio for recording, editing, viewing and sharing your own videos. Actually, more than my gut. I’ve spoken with a source that is familiar with Apple’s plans for the next iPhone, which may well be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in early June. Evidently, shooting video is as easy as it is with a Flip, the ingenious device made by Pure Digital (recently purchased by Cisco). Then there’s an iMovie app that lets you quickly save the sections you want, right there on the phone itself. There may also be support for MMS, so the clips can be shared wirelessly with friends. And because of the iPhone’s relatively large screen, your friends don’t have to schlep to your PC or their Facebook page to see that video of your kids or your safari. Just hand them your iPhone.
The atmospherics suggest that I’m right. I’m referring to the loud silence from Apple—a company that is famous for pre-launch misdirection in order to maintain some element of surprise. For example, Apple made no mention of any video recording capability when it unveiled its iPhone 3.0 software a few months back. And yet blog posts from Gizmodo and others have pretty much confirmed that it’s in there.
Also, the timing seems just about right for Apple to make one of its famous late arrivals into a hot market. That’s what happened with music. Recall that in the late 90s, Macs didn’t even have CD burners so Napster fans could create their own CDs. But with iPod and the opening of the iTunes Music Store, Apple quickly put its stamp on the digital music market. A rather big stamp at that, given that Apple is now the world’s leading music distributor. Or consider the iPhone. Rivals had been making smart phones for years, until Apple waltzed in and totally redefined the segment. Same with the app store concept. Palm had one years ago (complete with TV ads which, like Apple, promoted apps more than its device), as have various carriers. Just not one as easy to use and as well-stocked as Apple’s, which just passed the 1 billion download mark. (Here’s Om Malik’s insightful analysis on what Apple got right in this regard).
Cut to today, when millions of people love to post YouTube videos—but don’t have a dead-simple way to do it. Apple’s new approach sounds like it may be the answer. People will shoot more video, since they will usually have their phone with them. Since they don’t need to mess with any PC or editing program, they may actually go to the trouble of editing it down to a bearable length (and given the excellent synching in iTunes, they won’t simply forget they shot the footage or forget where they put it). And while there is at least one great device for recording video (that Flip) and plenty for playing it back (any laptop will do), the iPhone could turn out to be the best at handling both of these tasks at once.
Then there’s the marketing opportunity. This one is right in Apple’s wheelhouse; the company should have no problem coming up with great ads that poke fun at how difficult it’s been to simply send grandma a video of the kids, and how Apple makes it easier. So my hunch is that Apple will be selling loads of iPhones to people who want to create their own videos, rather than just watch those made by the pros.