Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How The Iphone Will Change Movie And TV Viewing Forever

Unless you've been living in a cave, under a rock, or on the Dark Side of the Moon you know that on Friday June 29th Apple's new iPhone finally hit store shelves. Thousands of Apple and mobile phone fans waited in hundreds of lines for hours just for the privledge of dropping $499-$599 on the shiny new mobile phone/internet device/widescreen iPod. Analysts and tech geeks hailed the iPhone's arrival as a momentus event in the cell phone industry. I'm here to tell you that history will show the iPhone's release as one of the single biggest events in the history of independent filmmaking.

What, exactly, does the iPhone--a mobile phone/internet device/widescren iPod--have to do with indie filmmaking? Well, a lot. The movie download market must prepare for a great new phase as we look forward to more and more great devices capable of playing our content.

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For independent content to survive and thrive, it must move to new delivery devices like Apple TV, iPod and now the iPhone. Support for these new devices will lead to growth in the audience for indie content. Many "mainstream" consumers will not view indie films at screenings, festivals or DVD. The films are too hard to find, often barried in video rental store shelves or playing in small art house theaters. This has been the case for the past few decades. Once every five years there is a breakout hit--a Clerks or Blair Witch--that gives the indie community something to rally around. The independent movie press declare, "We've arrived. This is the 'Year of the Indie'". Just as quickly as these hits arise, the excitement dies down and the great content made in the aftermath gets lost in the shuffle.

Now, for what may truely be the first time, consumers will have in their hands a great portable media device. You may argue that the iPod with video or the PSP have existed for a few years. But, these are devices that most people do not *have* to carry at all times. These are "luxury" devices that we carry when we want to. Cell phones are vastly different. Most Americans now carry their cell phone at all times--to the gym, on the bus, walking through the mall, at the ball game. We always have our phones with us. Now that Apple has delivered "the best iPod ever built" (Apple's words) and snuck it inside a phone, we now have a captive audience that will always have viewing capability.

This is, or has the potential to be, huge. Just look no farther than the iPhone's home screen. Right there on that gorgious 3.5" screen is a direct link to everyone's favorite dancing-cats-meet-dancing-teenagers clip sharing site, YouTube. Think about that. Apple put YouTube directly on the home screen of their revolutionary new device. Now, this could be entirely motivated by a new advertisting or search revenue deal Apple has struck with Google. But even if it is, the fact that YouTube is on the home screen of the iPhone can not be ignored.
Apple believes in mobile entertainment. They created the iPod so that we all could enjoy all our music at any time or place. Now, we are closer than ever to that dream for video. The iPhone's 3.5" screen has a resolution higher than many computer monitors. It displays MPEG4 H.264 video beautifully--better than any portable device ever has. These quality features combined with the simple fact that people will actually have the device with them, lead to great market opportunities.

Of course, the iPhone is, for now, a niche device. It's high price tag mean that it won't be found in the hands of many teens or college students in the near future. But just as with all technology, the price will drop over time. The iPhone will also force other handset makers and cell providers to design better devices. Devices that compete with the iPhone. When this happens, consumers win.

HungryFlix.com is ready to help independent producers, filmmakers and musicians in this new distribution world. We believe that this new class of mobile devices will open the doors to great indie content. It is time to get onboard. There are hundreds of thousands of movie and music fans out there with new devices that are hungry for great content.


Brian Andrews is an independent filmmaker and producer and CEO of http://www.hungryflix.com/, an online film distributor focused on new media.
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