A few notable things weren’t announced alongside new iPods today. Yeah, aside from the Beatles (let it go, old media, let it go)…
First, no new labels were announced for iTunes Plus, a program that therefore still consists largely of the EMI catalog of higher-bitrate, DRM-free, $1.29 tracks. Even if the other majors don’t want to play — Universal because they’re being dicks, and the rest because they still love DRM — it’s hard to imagine that there aren’t some indie labels that wouldn’t like to get in on the higher-priced, audio-philic, fan-friendly format that isn’t defective by design. Maybe Apple’s holding out for another major before they let in the indies, so they don’t look desperate?
I hope that iTunes Plus succeeds — I’ve already converted all my eligible tunes — but it hinges in a big way on the behavior of third parties that may not be inclined to be Apple’s allies.
Similarly, Steve announced no new studios as movie providers. Right now, iTunes makes do with a library of Disney content, and some Paramount back-catalog stuff. As many format wars (including the current HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray fiasco) teach us, consumers are not enthusiastic into buying into formats with obviously limited libraries, so iTunes may still be struggling in long-form video until consumers have the confidence that pretty much whatever they want will be on iTunes (or, barring that, at least available in some form that runs on the iPod).
That said, there are still video content providers being added all the time. Just before today’s big show, iTunes added Tezuka Productions, so anime snobs like me can get influential stuff from the “God of Manga”, like Phoenix… while the rest of anime fandom posts comments to the effect of “this sucks, where’s Naruto and Evangelion?” And nowadays, all the good video is nichey TV anyways, so if I can’t get big-ass Hollywood dreck like Shrek 13 on my iPod… well, darn.
Finally, aside from the games included with the new models, we didn’t hear about any new games for sale on the iTunes Store. This seems like another offering that’s sort of limping along on iTunes. While there are thousands of games available for Java-enabled phones, many of them excellent, Apple’s proprietary and close-to-the-chest approach has left iPod owners with fewer than 20 titles. And if it was OK to slam the N-Gage for having no good games, shouldn’t the iPod be subject to similar abuse, so long as Apple’s genuinely trying (and, frankly, failing) in this effort?