Apple’s all-new iTunes Extras/LP format appears aimed at high-resolution devices, including Macs, PCs, and potentially in future, the Apple TV and iPod tablet.
Apple’s extended media delivers its content at a width and height of 1,280-x-720 – exactly the same resolution as video output through an HDTV using an Apple TV. It’s also potentially high-res enough for an Apple tablet device.
The limitation of this format is it doesn’t yet play on an iPhone or an iPod touch. And while it can scale down for playback on a MacBook’s 13-inch screen, it’s clearly targeted at full native HD.
Developer Jay Robinson has done a very thorough kick at the tyres of the new format, uncovering a series of nuggets, including proof the format saw some changes during its pre-release development and the revelation that the software contains no DRM, reflecting the industry’s more liberal attitude to paying customers.
Also interesting – the new format renders in WebKit, so you can visualise a wave of creative expression as fans and artists use Apple’s new – and free – format to create immersive multimedia experiences for playback through a compliant Web browser (which includes Google Chrome, by the way).
The lack of a licensing fee and the relatively non-complex nature of creating content using Apple’s solution has driven one developer to speculate, “iTunes will soon establish a record amount of computers on which WebKit is the conveyor of premium Web experience. It won’t be long until WebKit rules the PC world too.”
We don’t believe Apple’s plan stops here. We’re speculating the company has already put together software to enable selected iPhone game developers to build products capable of playback at 1,280-x-720.
We anticipate the next Apple TV software release may introduce support for some of these elements, including a browser capable of handling content built using the new iTunes Extras/LP formats. We expect some selected games to also be made available, once Apple figures out how to create a fast gaming interface (will that USB port at the back become something?)
More importantly, we suggest Apple has focused on this work in order to ensure some of its existing customers already have content of the right kind and quality for immediate playback by early adopters of its forthcoming tablet product range.
Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster recently predicted sales of 6.6 million Apple TV’s by the end of this year. Munster also predicted launch this year of new Apple TV hardware equipped with a TV input and DVR functionality.
He said: “We expect Apple to design a connected television over the next two years (launching in 2011) with DVR functionality built in. These recorded shows could then sync with Macs, iPhones and iPods over a wireless network. The device would push Apple further into the digital living room with interactive TV, music, movie, and gaming features. With its iTunes ecosystem, Apple could develop a unique TV without any set-top-boxes or devices attached.”
While you wait to see if this is true, you may want to explore Amazon’s currently discounted Apple TV.