Apple tv Apple, this week, let slip another clue in its ambitious plans to become the premiere delivery mechanism for digital content to the content-hungry world.  iTunes Movie rental service, no longer a technical hurdle with the AppleTV sitting in store shelves consumer entertainment centers, is most likely being held up by lawyers, negotiators and studio executives who are undoubtedly wary of selling away the distribution part of the home entertainment value chain that they possess.

It is really only a matter of time until one or two studios relent **cough Disney** and the other studios fall in line.  It would be extremely surprising if the service doesn’t launch before 2008 with the announcement of iTunes 8 with the possibility of some HD quality content deals.  Netflix and Blockbuster should be very afraid.

The reality is that Apple owns the lion’s share of the digital media content distribution for the foreseeable future.  All of the mechanisms are falling into place for Apple while the other players are all scrambling for pieces of the puzzle.  With the iTunes ecosystem (iPod, iPhone, AppleTV) on hundreds of millions of consumer machines around the world, Apple has the ability to deliver a wide variety of recorded content to the entire planet.  The only thing that Apple can’t currently deliver is real time media (news, sports, etc) and full HD content (bandwidth restrictions). 

Old Media stalwarts like Viacom are starting to catch on, developing portals like the new thedailyshow.com which will house the entire archive of Daily Shows (cool!).  However, Apple is again, one step ahead allowing people to seamlessly download and view the Daily Show on the same iTunes platform they are watching their other (Apple)TV programs and movies.  

Joost, is another competitor in this field with technology developed by the Kazaa and Skype founders.  While they do the delivery pretty well using P2P networks and are starting to get some desirable content, they still only cover a small part of the Media-Entertainment spectrum.

Apple, as if it needed any additional momentum, is also wildly popular and fashionable these days and is as connected to the entertainment industry and any technology company could hope to be It can’t hurt that Apple CEO, Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder of Disney, one of the largest media companies.  

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