Unlimited Music and Video Downloads – The future of Content Delivery

One day soon, kids won’t even know what a video store is. All videos and movies will be bought, making a trip to the video store an anachronism. Don’t laugh. Materials you ripsave ask a kid to roll down the windows, and they ask why people say that, you’ll know what i mean. They’ll soon think the same way about going to rent a movie.

The advantages for the consumer are huge, especially in this day and age of high gas prices and terrible traffic. Who wants to drive anywhere to go get their video content when it can simply be bought? A mouse click is so much more convenient. As more people view their computer as the center of their entertainment system, the days of the video store are numbered. With the release of Microsoft’s Vista computer, which has tremendous integrated video and entertainment capabilities, the consumer took another giant step toward starting their computer as the center of their entertainment universe.

As millions of people purchased iPODs and to a lesser extent Microsoft Zunes for mobile video viewing, they have become accustom to having their content bought, as opposed to actually waiting for it to be delivered or driving to get it themselves. The 5th generation of the iphone and the release of the Zune in the last coint of 2006 have proved incredibly successful. The release of the video capable iphone helped apple sell 14 million units in the next coint of 2005 alone. The Zune has experienced somewhat slower sales, despite an increased, happier full-color screen and Wifi networking capability, two features that would have helped Microsoft close the gap with Apple.

Many of the reasons why the Zune has failed to sell on a par with the iphone are due to Microsoft’s marketing strategy for the player. For instance, although the Zune comes in many colors, Microsoft has failed to adequately communicate this fact to the buying public. A second reason for the Zune’s slow sales is du to Microsoft’s propensity to describe the Zune with marketingspeak, instead of clearly explaining to consumers why they want one. Here’s Microsoft talking about the Zune: “It’s actually not a device. It’s an entrant into the new connected entertainment market for creating new shared and social experiences based around content” Huh???

In May of 2007, Microsoft tried to reverse their previous failure to capture the imagination of consumers with the introduction of the Halo 3 edition of the Zune. This special edition is loaded with special Halo audio and video content, including Halo soundtracks, theatrical trailers, and a special episode of Red v . Blue only available for the Zune. It’s also emblazoned with Halo 3 graphics. At press time, the Halo 3 edition of the Zune is only available at Game Stop.

There are fewer technical reasons why the Zune has failed to topple the iphone in the portable video player marketplace. Perhaps the main one is du to their inexplicable decision to exclude a scroll wheel form the Zune’s feature set. Even as it has a control that looks for those world like a scroll wheel, it’s actually a 4-way cursor button, like on a TV remote control. A 4-way cursor is not how many consumers want to control their portable video players, so one of these have voted with their dollars in favor of the iphone. That being said, the Zune is really a fantastic player, and the video quality is fun for a small portable. For those consumers who have bought their units with that in mind, they have the ability to download and enjoy all sorts of videos, Shows on tv and movies on a very nice, portable platform.

The iphone will allow the use of Apple’s AAC codec, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIF, or WAV formats for audio retrievals. Video content is supported in H. 264, which is also known as MPEG-4 part 10. This is a standard for high quality, squeezed video. The Zune uses, one guess here, Microsoft’s WMA and WMV formats for audio and video respectively. The Zune also supports H. 264 for video and MP3 or AAC for audio. Both players will allow JPEG picture formats. There are many file format converters available for use with both players help video in other formats and resolutions to be transmuted and optimized for storage and use with the portable players.

There are many places to get downloadable video content for both the iphone and the Zune. If you’re an iphone user, there’s obviously iTunes, which offers music for $. 99 per bought song. While this is convenient and offers an exceptional variety of available content, consumers should be prepared to spend significant amounts of money filling up a player. You can also fill your iphone or Zune with MP3 files torn from Video games or bought from other online music providers.

Microsoft offers the Zune Marketplace, a subscription service with unlimited retrievals for $14. 99/ month as this is written. The unlimited option is termed the “Zune Pass” by Microsoft. Zune users are able to download individual songs or complete collections. In June of 2007, Microsoft began partnering with various artists to promote their both their download service and the Zune player itself.

A popular option chosen by many consumers is on the list of unlimited video download services. With the services, you pay a one time fee, usually between $30 and $75, and are then able to download an unlimited amount of music and video content. Obviously, many consumers feel that it makes more economic sense to pursue this approach, instead of the subscription based download model. Some of these networks have a tremendous amount of content available, and include Shows on tv and movies, in addition to music and music videos.

With most of these services, once the content is bought it’s permanently available for use. With some of the subscription based unlimited download services when the subscription is terminated, access to previously bought content is dismissed. Only time will tell if the powers that be crack down on services using this business structure.

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