Tag Archives: Windows Media

Can iTunes Rentals Bring iPlayer Downloads to the Mac?

One of the biggest criticisms of the BBC iPlayer has been that the download service is Windows only – and limited to specific versions at that – ruling out licence payers using other platforms such as the Mac. Indeed I’ve blogged previously about the pressure that the BBC is under by the BBC Trust to get such a cross-platform solution.

The basic problem has always been that there wasn’t a solution that met the requirements – the ability to have programmes downloadable, but then only able to be watched for a week after the original showing, but was cross-platform. Windows Media DRM provided the functionality, but not the cross-platform support.

That all changed this week, with the Macworld Keynote. As part of that, Apple announced iTunes Movie Rentals. Although the lengths of time are different, the fundamental principle that the BBC required, that the programmes only be able to be watched for a limited period are there. When I was watching the keynote, the thought did cross my mind as to whether we’d find the BBC amongst the big film studios come the UK launch.

It hasn’t taken long for the BBC to start making positive noises, with Ashley Highfield, the director of Future Media and Technology stating on a BBC blog:

The announcement from Macworld about the effective relaunch of the AppleTV (Jobs: “we tried with AppleTV, but its not what people wanted. So we’re back with AppleTV take two – no computer is required”) is encouraging.

This, coupled with Apple’s (long anticipated) move to a rental model, means that we can look to getting BBC iPlayer onto this platform too, as we should be able to use the rental functionality to allow our programmes to be downloaded, free, but retained for a time window, and then erased, as our rightsholders currently insist.

Whilst it won’t reach Linux users, using iTunes would reach more users than the current solution – more than that, the programmes would be transferable from a computer, to an iPod, and could even be watched back on a TV using the Apple TV – giving an option for people without a suitable computer at all.

I also can’t imagine that Steve Jobs isn’t going to jump at this – just think of the media coverage if the BBC boots out a Microsoft based solution in favour of iTunes

BBC Trust Getting Tough Over iPlayer

It was good to see that the BBC Trust are getting tough with the BBC over their iPlayer project. The BBC have said that they may not do a download service for anything other than PC’s, offering only a streaming service for other platforms. The BBC Trust have come back saying that iPlayer was only approved on condition that it was platform neutral – when asked if offering just video streaming across all platforms would fulfil the BBC Trust’s terms of approval for iPlayer, a spokesman for the regulators said: “We required platform neutrality across downloads, streaming and cable [set-top boxes].” Having said that, since the current iPlayer that the BBC Trust approved is heavily based on Windows Media Player the prospects of that ever being platform neutral always seemed minimal to me!

Scoble Feeds The Conspiracy Theorists

Reading through the new postings to Robert Scoble‘s blog, the Scobleizer, I came across a posting that as a Mac user I found pretty funny.

The posting is on the subject of a video of the recent Longhorn RSS announcement, however due to limited bandwidth, rather than posting two versions, he had only posted a Windows Media streaming file. This had caused problems for Mac users because the Mac version always shows the lowest bandwidth stream in the file rather than the largest. To his credit he is now chasing up the relevant team at Microsoft to sort out the problem.

The reason I found the whole thing funny is that most Mac users try to avoid dealing with the Mac Windows Media Player because of the generally poor performance. Also quite apart from the performance, even the latest version won’t run all the videos that the Windows version displays, and streaming video to it is just a waste of time.

Whilst I’m not convinced, many Mac Zealots will have you believe that Microsoft deliberately put out a poorly performing version for the Mac to give the impression of cross platform support to encourage people to use the format, but then to argue that to get good performance you really need a Windows machine, as the Mac can’t cut it. Whilst there may be a myriad of reasons as to why the bug wasn’t spotted sooner, the admission on Scobleizer can only add fuel to the conspiracy theorists!