The new video iPod is not only a lauded status symbol, but also the ultimate symbol for how there in recent years has been a reformation in the multinational media conglomerations’ strategy for getting consumers to exclusively download conventional content. With the new iPod, hardware controls the selection of media content in subtle ways, argues Jonas Andersson, media researcher at Goldsmiths College in London.
The new version of the Apple iPod is radically different from its predecessors in that it facilitates video playback. On today’s semi-legal and illegal file-sharing networks, video files are as commonplace as music files, and Apple has obviously responded to this fact in the design of this widely appraised entertainment appliance. As a result, the iPod video capacity is directly limited to two digital formats: MPEG-4 and Apple’s own, recently launched H.264. They do not support for example the DivX format which is a common one for illegally downloaded, so called “ripped” files. To watch your own holiday movies, or digitally recorded TV programs, or free, illegally downloaded films, these need to be converted into one of the two aforementioned formats – a time-consuming, complicated procedure. This can be done through Apple’s Quicktime video software, but the process does not make it less cumbersome to install, transfer and watch non-commercial material, compared to that which is offered through the proprietary iTunes online store. (See here for a fierce critique of the iTunes concept.) Read the rest of this entry »