Jeez, I’ve never seen Hollywood so orgasmic as today’s simultaneous climaxing in Beverly Hills, Burbank and Century City offices over the sexy new iPhone. (Quick, buy stock in Kleenex.) Now, all Steve Jobs needs to do is make a very limited edition line so the celebs can come in their Oscar swag bags. That said, what does Jobs’ techno toy mean for the entertainment industry? You feel the horniness in your gut: this is finally the Perfect 10 of New Media too cool for the room platforms that the public has been aching for. This is the call girl that does everything you want: movies, TV, email, tunes, contacts, the works. This will make you crazed enough to switch to AT&T’s Cingular even if the service sucks, just so you can run your fingers up and down that sleek oxymoronic 3.5-inch widescreen display. And, therefore, this is finally what Hollywood can start to monetize if they jump on its bones early enough, the way Bob Iger and Brad Grey have done. Every other major studio: what in the world are you waiting for? The problem right now, to use the VCR analogy, is that this is VHS and everything else is just Beta. The money is there for the taking at a time when the DVD market has fizzled since iTunes is now the largest online video store in the world with over 1.3 million full-length films and 50 million Tv episodes sold to date. At December’s UBS Global media Conference, NBC Universal TV Group’s Jeff Zucker boasted that, while the major networks are losing viewers, his company will end 2006 with as much as $400 million in revenue from its digital operations — and that’s expected to soar to $1 billion by 2009. He explained how: “The week after a new prime-time hit show like Heroes is on NBC, it repeats twice on the Sci-Fi Channel. The next morning, it airs on NBC.com. It plays there free with advertising. Then it’s available for sell-through on iTunes.” As for hardware, just think how Sony and Motorola and Palm have surrendered to Apple. (And Microsoft’s own pathetic Ipod clone, Zune.) Sure, there’ll always be people who won’t abandon their Crackberries or who need their Windows-based Treo for killer biz apps. But the iPhone will flourish generation after generation even as iPod sales continue to decline. Two versions — 4 gigs for $499 and 8 gigs for $599 — will be available in June + a new Bluetooth wireless headset in the shape of a slash mark + new iPod-like earbuds with integrated microphone. Hey, even a staunch supporter of Sarbanes-Oxley corporate regulation can overlook a little stock options backdating by Jobs just as long as toys like this keep coming, and coming.
I’m way less impressed with the retail version of the previously announced and decidedly unsexy iTV streaming media device now called Apple TV. The $299 living room gadget allows users to wirelessly play audio and video content from a Mac or PC on a television. (Shipping starts in February.) It will have a 40GB hard drive (for up to 50 hours of video, 9,000 songs, 25,000 photos or a combination of each). Big yawn.