You have to hand it to Apple for its awesome-ness . I saw an article this past week that talked about Apple’s 64.5% share in EST/iVOD consumer spending in 2010. Sure, they are down from 74.4% in 2009, but owning more than two thirds of any market is an impressive feat.
However, we have seen competition intensify with Zune, PlayStation, Amazon and Wal-Mart. And competition will continue to intensify with industry plays like Ultraviolet , confusing people even further. So what’s on my mind today is this: is there room for more competitors and new stuff in video? Or will people settle for (or to some, surrender to) the simplicity and workability of Apple?
Is there room?
My unsolicited opinion is yes, of course there is always room for new stuff. But any new companies have a sheer cliff to scale. Not only does the service or product have to be absolutely perfect and better than Apple, but people have to know about it. And that takes loads of innovation, marketing, product refreshing and starting all over again. In this day and age, once a product/service is released, it begins becoming obsolete on day 2.
Who’s it gonna be?
So who’s going to be the courageous new competitor? One camp out there thinks that – of all things – Wal-Mart and Vudu have a shot. Well, I think that’s ridiculous. Wal-Mart just doesn’t innovate or have the right customer base. They sell cheap crap made in China to make life more affordable – hardly a fit for digital entertainment.
On my optimistic days, I think Ultraviolet has a shot. They’ve got the right players and the right ideas. With Microsoft and Sony as members, they represent 17% of the market. I’m definitely anxious to see them get on with it and launch something, because it could be very cool.
But then day 2 arrives. That’s when the pessimist Fool starts pestering me: with the consortium-style-United-Nations-procedures way of making decisions, I find it very hard to see UV executing on rapid product enhancements and innovations that are so critical. There’s just too many companies and people involved. As a small example, Microsoft’s Zune is out for itself, and Sony is world famous for its ability to not really do anything more once it does something cool (remember the Walkman).
So, in answer to my self-imposed question, given where the market is today, I think people will happily surrender to Apple. Even though Motorolla’s vision of 1984 may come true, at least my stuff will work, and my Apple shares will be worth something.