Until the new government's Fibre to the Node plans get off the ground to create a level playing field (assuming Telstra doesn't control the new network), most of Australia's lounge rooms are likely to remain on a broadband drip feed which makes online movie services painfully slow and expensive.
The other thing stopping online movie services taking off is the need for dedicated hardware. Yes, I know you can just plug a computer into your television (like I do), but your average punter doesn't want a computer in their lounge room. Quite frankly I can't blame them - it's a pain in the arse, and that's coming from a nerd who loves technology.
Even in the US where broadband speeds are less of an issue, retail giant Wal-mart has quietly abandoned the online video download market after 12 months. The fact is that most people don't want to watch movies on their computers, yet they also don't want to hassle of getting content from their PC in the study to their AV system in the lounge room.
Clearly what's needed is some kind of set top box that can sneak its way into people's lounge rooms and find acceptance. It's got to be something that's "green button simple" like a DVD player that any moron could use.
The most likely candidates are personal video recorders and games consoles, so it's little surprise that both TiVo and the PlayStation 3 offer video download services. The PS3's whopping price tag and gaming heritage will ensure that it always remains a relatively niche product.
The Apple TV is another obvious candidate, with Apple releasing an update so you can rent movies directly through the Apple TV. Mac worshippers may see its value, but the Apple TV's computing heritage means it will never find mainstream acceptance like the iPod has. I don't mean mainstream amongst nerds, I mean real mainstream - the kind of thing your tech illiterate grand parents would buy. Think about your beer-guzzling, football-watching, arse-scratching friends who don't know how to use their new mobile phone. Think about 12 o’clock flashers - those with every appliance in the house always flashing 12:00 because they’re too stupid to figure out how to set the time. These are the people that have to be won over before video downloads pose any kind of serious threat to the local video store.
When it comes to cracking the video download market, I'd say the smart money is on TiVo. CONTINUED