iPhone Prophecy

It was July 2008, the iPhone was still a novelty and the second iteration called the iPhone 3G had just been released. The iPhone 3G improved on the Original iPhone in speed and connectivity, but the optics were still deficient and it had one big omission. It couldn’t record video. So on July 16, 2008 I penned a blog post titled – iWant the iPhone Pro!. Here is the gist of my commentary…

The one achilles heel of the current iPhone are its poor optics. The 3G camera is the same 2-megapixel version that shipped with the original iPhone, and it still does not record video. I’m sure some 3rd-party developer will release an App to get it to record video at some point, but at 2-megapixel quality, it won’t be that usable.

So that leads me to the ‘iPhone Pro’. When is it coming, Steve? Oh, you know its coming. Let’s not forget that Apple is steeped in movie making software. This is a company that pioneered the .MOV QuickTime video codec. This is a company that produces Hollywood studio-quality editing software in Final Cut Pro, and has further leveraged their editing prowess to create iMovie for Joe Consumer. Don’t you think we’re going to see iMovie Mobile on the iPhone?

Sooner or later, Steve Jobs is going to walk on stage at the Moscone Center and he’s going to unveil the iPhone of all iPhones. An iPhone that isn’t just going to continue to revolutionize the cellular handset industry, but an iPhone that makes every digital still and video camera manufacturer quiver with fear. Everything from 8+ megapixels, 30-frame-per-second video, zoom, autofocus, image stabilizer etc., and combine all of this with the ability to edit and compose your photos and videos with Apps like Aperture Mobile and iMovie Mobile. Steve Jobs may even bring Steven Spielberg on stage to help demo it and suggest that we are eventually going to witness full-length feature films edited and shot entirely on an iPhone. Heck, we can’t even be that far off from an iPhone HD.

So when is the iPhone Pro coming? I have no idea, but when it does, you can be sure I’ll be buying my first iPhone.”

Fast-forward 6 years, and while I’ve owned my fair share of iPhones and already moved on to Android, I was reminded of that previous post after watching a new commercial spot for luxury automaker Bentley. Bentley produced a beautiful 4-minute promo that was shot entirely on an iPhone 5S and edited exclusively on an iPad Air while sitting in the back of a Bentley Mulsanne. Check it out…

This is by no means the first ‘all iPhone’ commercial production. Another example would be Burberry partnering directly with Apple for their Spring/Summer 2014 fashion show. Burberry used nine iPhone 5S to shoot and produce video of the show.

While Steve Jobs is no longer with us, Steven Spielberg has yet to release a sequel to E.T. shot exclusively with an iPhone and my original post is 6 years old, there is no denying now that the age of the ‘iPhone Pro’ has most definitely arrived.

Web Video Productions Soon To Rival Hollywood

The ‘Video Game High School’ webseries is a small production compared to big-budget Hollywood. But it’s not ‘shot from my basement with an iPhone’ small. It’s the new Semi-Pro small, with enough funding to make a production look almost as polished as Hollywood-driven content, minus several zeros on the balance sheet. Impressive. It won’t be long before many of the shows on broadcast television are started independently on the web by talented videopreneurs, and eventually get acquired by major studios after they’ve been market and traction tested. Not dissimilar to how tech startups are born, grown, then acquired.


Physical vs. Electronic

“To paraphrase Mark Twain, the demise of Blockbuster has been greatly exaggerated,” CEO, James W. Keyes, told analysts in a conference call.

In many ways Blockbuster is the Rosetta Stone for this evolving ‘physical vs. electronic’ media distribution tug-of-war. We live in the physical world but more and more of our media consumption is being enabled through digital delivery mechanisms. As such, businesses like Blockbuster which were deeply reliant on the physical distribution of media are having to re-think their business model and change course on-the-fly. Blockbuster has a lot of good things going for it. A household brand name that is synonumous with entertainment, strong local presence and visibility and a solid track record executing their (albeit outdated) business model. The big challenge for Blockbuster is to figure out a way to make bricks and mortar profitable in an era where retail shelve space is far more expensive and limiting than server space.

“An average movie theater will not show a film unless it can attract at least 1,500 people over a two-week run; that’s essentially the rent for a screen. An average record store needs to sell at least two copies of a CD per year to make it worth carrying; that’s the rent for a half inch of shelf space. And so on for DVD rental shops, videogame stores, booksellers, and newsstands. In each case, retailers will carry only content that can generate sufficient demand to earn its keep. But each can pull only from a limited local population – perhaps a 10-mile radius for a typical movie theater, less than that for music and bookstores, and even less (just a mile or two) for video rental shops. It’s not enough for a great documentary to have a potential national audience of half a million; what matters is how many it has in the northern part of Rockville, Maryland, and among the mall shoppers of Walnut Creek, California.” – Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine

Many have suggested that Blockbuster should buy Netflix, the largest mail-driven DVD rental service. However, while buying Netflix may give their DVD-by-mail business a serious shot in the arm, it does not address the need for a new retail strategy for their 7800+ physical locations. Blockbuster gave a good hint about which direction they were eyeing when they tabled an offer to buy struggling electronic retailer Circuit City. While Blockbuster has since withdrawn their offer to buy Circuit City, it’s pretty clear that Blockbuster wants to delve deeper into selling consumer electronics.

Keyes: …if you look through the rear-view mirror, you say, “It’s a video store, why would they sell a Blu-ray player?” but as Blu-ray discs become more popular, what better place to buy it, what better place to demonstrate it to our customers than the people that are in once or twice a week renting videos. They keep seeing it and pretty soon it’s an impulse item and they want to have one. So, if they’re going to buy their Blu-ray player, and get home and realize they don’t have an 1080p television. Without having an assortment of 50 TVs on the floor, could we sell them a 42-inch Bravia TV? That’s 1080p so their Blu-ray experience is more robust. Sure, it becomes an impulse item, almost a convenience item. Now, back to your original question, technology is the secret sauce in the transformation of Blockbuster.

Imagine in the future someone walking up to you in the store and you’re admiring that Blu-ray player. They’re able to sell you the PS3 player off the floor and then show you on a handheld tablet PC an assortment of 10 different TV sets that are all 1080p-enabled and bring up the transaction right there, swipe your credit card right on the spot like you would in an Apple store, and have that TV installed tomorrow.

Except a lot of the big ticket purchases you’re mentioning are not impulse buys by any means.
Keyes: Well, you’re right. A lot of them aren’t but I’m not trying to be Best Buy. What we think the role is that impulse purchaser, the person who is less price sensitive, the person who sees that beautiful 42-inch display who says, “You know, I’m a busy person. I’m just going to get it.” Thankfully, that’s a huge portion of the customer base. Not everybody is a Wal-Mart shopper, yet ironically in the consumer electronics industry, virtually everybody in the industry tries to out price Wal-Mart. Again, if you’re selling solutions, you look at what the price of an Apple product is versus a competing product in another consumer electronics environment, and you’re not buying Apple products cheap. You’re buying solutions and you’re paying a pretty good premium for the convenience of that product working and the solution being readily available. As a retailer, that’s where we’re heading.

This is where CEO Keyes really starts to lose me, and I predict, his business too.

Will hardware save Blockbuster’s business?

In a follow-up to my previous post that touched on the major transformation from ‘store to web’ for big-box retailer Circuit City and their sagging offline sales, comes news today of a $1 Billion offer for Circuit City by Blockbuster. Much in the same way that Microsoft missed the boat on search which opened the door for Google, Blockbuster has similarly missed the boat on online video rentals and they’ve been chasing Netflix ever since.



Will merging with Circuit City save Blockbuster’s business / brand? Blockbuster appears to be moving toward a ‘hardware-based’ strategy that would likely see them launch a set-top content delivery box ie, think Apple TV. This strategy would explain the interest in merging with an electronics retailer.

“The combination of Blockbuster and Circuit City will result in an $18 billion retail enterprise uniquely positioned for the convergence of media content and electronic devices,” wrote Blockbuster’s Keyes this morning. “We would seek to differentiate products in both Blockbuster and Circuit City stores by offering exclusive content and content-enabled devices. Both companies would benefit from complementary products, marketing, management strengths, technology and distribution and the resulting synergies would significantly improve consolidated financial performance.”

In Canada, the online video rental business is suffering from a lack of competition and choice for consumers. It’s not a mature business yet by any means and over time that will change as new players, partnerships and brands enter the Canadian online video rental market.

via betanews