People have been calling for the Internet to get crushed under the weight of its own bandwidth since it was created in the 80s. Of course it never has. But the threats have always been overstated.
However, next week, Apple will almost definitely launch it’s iTunes movie rental store, and millions of people will start downloading like they never have before. One and a half hour movies can get up to one gigabyte in size. Contrast that to a four megabyte iTunes music file which is 250 times smaller. This is a huge amount of data.
Additionally, these movies will only be good for a short time – at that point they will be deleted from the computer. So if you want to see Casablanca again, you’ll need to download the whole gigabyte of data all over. In iTunes you hopefully only have to download a file once.
Apple already utilizes Akami for media distribution which house web file servers all over the globe and at ISPs to help alleviate Internet congestion. This will certainly help – but will it be enough? Other people have said that Apple could use the AppleTV as a bit torrent client which would help distribute files quickly and more cost effectively.
Or perhaps this threat is overstated. It isn’t just Apple in this game. Netflix and Amazon are currently selling movies as downloads without crippling the Internet. But neither of these vendors has anywhere near the marketshare as Apple. iTunes currently resides on over 100 million computers. Again, we are talking about a lot of bandwidth here.
By most accounts, Apple’s movie rental store will most be a big success – hopefully not at the expense of the Internet.