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The Apple Broadcast Network 190

Posted by timothy
from the interesting-future-ahead dept.
Hodejo1 writes "In 1959 5,749,000 television sets were sold in the US, bringing the cumulative total of sets sold since 1950 to 63,542,128 units. This number supported, through advertising, three national television networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS (a fourth, Dumont, folded in 1956) and numerous local independent stations. Now here are another set of numbers. As of April this year Apple sold 75 million iPhone and iPod touch units, devices capable of delivering video via Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. Add to that figure 2 million iPads and counting. By the end of the year Apple should have about 90 million smart mobile devices in the wild. That makes a proprietary amalgam greater than what the TV networks had in 1959 and one that easily serves as a foundation for a pending broadcast network that will be delivered not through tall radio towers, but through small wireless hubs and the Internet. Call it the Apple Broadcast Network. iAd is how Apple plans to pay for it."
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The Apple Broadcast Network

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, 2010 @06:33PM (#32471816)

    Apple has nothing to say that I find worth hearing. Apple has nothing to show that I find worth seeing.

  • Over what bandwidth? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tftp (111690) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @06:34PM (#32471828) Homepage

    s of April this year Apple sold 75 million iPhone and iPod touch units, devices capable of delivering video via Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity.

    The 3G connectivity is not sufficient for watching video in volume comparable to TV. TV bandwidth is essentially free (a true one-to-many broadcast,) whereas 3G is not (it's limited and shared.)

    Even the Wi-Fi connectivity is lacking in many cities, let alone countryside. I think we are a good decade away from being able to depend on our Internet links for reliable, always-on TV viewing.

  • by fredmosby (545378) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @06:46PM (#32471890)
    I haven't watched 'traditional' television since I discovered hulu.com and bought a computer to drive my HDTV. I can't believe I used to be willing to make an appointment to watch a TV show.

    I agree about the 3G though. Cell phone networks have been slow to realize that they need to develop a high speed high bandwidth data only network and deploy it everywhere.
  • by mlts (1038732) * on Saturday June 05, 2010 @06:56PM (#32471934)

    With net neutrality not an issue, I wonder if AT&T will have its arm twisted into giving "free" passage to any Apple specified content where it doesn't contribute to the cap, while anything from Hulu, YouTube, and other places get charged the metered rates. This way, users end up going to Apple's content because it doesn't cost them anything.

  • by tftp (111690) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @07:08PM (#32471982) Homepage

    Cell phone networks have been slow to realize that they need to develop a high speed high bandwidth data only network and deploy it everywhere.

    Laws of physics may be against them. If each handset consumes 10 Mbps (10^7 bps) (which is about half of what broadcast digital TV uses - 19+ Mbps) and if you have 10,000 (10^4) viewers in service area of each cell site then you need roughly (10^4 * 10^7) = 10^11 bps. If we assume s/n = 20 dB that requires [wikipedia.org] 10^11 / 6.65 = 11.5 * 10^9 Hz, or about 12 GHz of bandwidth. That can't be done on a carrier that is around 2 GHz! Variations of multicasting could be used to reduce that number somewhat, but it's a lot in any case, even if you reduce the bit rate at the client. At best you could achieve some mediocre reliability of a small picture for a limited number of clients. You can't get to the target bit rate without going into millimeter wave, and that isn't going to work due to poor penetration of buildings. And the root cause of all that trouble is that indeed "never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon loaded with magnetic tapes." Broadcast TV delivers an incredible amount of bits per second, even though each client gets exactly the same bits as any other client.

  • Re:Ads (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NF6X (725054) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @07:21PM (#32472042) Homepage

    I despise ads so much that I've quit watching broadcast TV or listening to radio. The few TV shows that I do watch, I buy from the iTunes store, because I'd rather pay a couple bucks than have to watch any ads, and I don't watch enough TV shows to justify bothering with a cable TV subscription and DVR (to skip the ads).

    When I'm in a friend's vehicle and they have the radio on, hearing the ads is worse torture than their incompatible taste in music. I used to subscribe to XM radio, but cancelled when they merged the XM/Sirius channel lineups and eliminated much of the stuff that I wanted to listen to; at that point, they no longer could compete with my iPod.

    I like my Apple products, and barely tolerate Apple's iron fist (there's a lot of room for improvement there). However, if there was an "Apple Broadcasting Network" supported by "iAds", I wouldn't have any interest in it unless there was an easy way to avoid ever seeing any of the ads. I have zero interest in ad-supported products, though I'm not above using ad-supported products and services where I can easily block the ads.

    So, to all of you ad-supported product providers out there: Unless you let me steal your crappy product without having to see the ads, I'm just not interested. Die in a fire, and all that. If you think you have a product that's good enough that I can't live without it, then give me a way to support it without seeing ads. If it's a good enough product, I'll happily pay for it; if it's crap, I'll either steal it for free or just live without it.

  • by FuckingNickName (1362625) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @07:45PM (#32472164) Journal

    As a radio ham and general "get off my lawn!" sort of person, I still feel guilty when I catch up to some TV programme online. There's something very wasteful (at an instant) about using a one-to-one link for what should have been multicast/broadcast.

    It's really weird to see more recently arrived 'net users not even stop to contemplate bandwidth allocation. Or throw away food or packaging. The trend's reversing, but at a snail's pace. We can assume there is an infinite amount of sunlight (beyond Earth) - anything else is something we're quite fortunate to have right now.

  • by AHuxley (892839) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @07:52PM (#32472204) Homepage Journal
    Well they could have used an idea like Digital Multimedia Broadcasting
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_Multimedia_Broadcasting [wikipedia.org]
    But now seem to only have the option to push data on closed networks rather than satellite or terrestrial transmission like radio or TV.
    Could US telco networks be opened to all, a new 'broadcast' standard is offered or the US public is herded into brand only walled media subscriptions?
    The US telcos feeling data use, bandwidth upgrades and pricing is clear.
    Apple and telco $$$ time for all :)
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:06PM (#32472274) Homepage


    If each handset consumes 10 Mbps (10^7 bps)

    Straight off, you're off by a factor of 10. Streaming video can quite easily be compressed down to 1 Mb/second corresponding to about the quality of SDTV. Since you'd only then require 1/10th of the bandwidth, that means only 1.2 ghz.

  • Re:Huh? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrNonchalant (767683) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:20PM (#32472314)

    Right, because RCA TVs and Apple iPhones are absolutely comparable. They both display moving images. They both play sound. And they are both internet-connected devices running software written and updated by a single party. That party maintains a persistent connection to them, and has an avowed interest in becoming a media distribution power. Oh, wait.

    I am not suggesting that Apple will literally play streaming video over all these devices. However, it's an interesting way to think about the vested power here. They have 90 million devices that they essentially own in everyone's pockets, backpacks and living rooms. They are one update, one App Store app, away from becoming bigger than all four broadcast networks at their peak.

  • Also (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @08:47PM (#32472442)

    People don't buy phones to watch TV. They buy, well, TVs.

    I do not get this idea that retards in the press have that TVs and computers are going to go away and be replaced with phones. No, they aren't. It isn't a matter of technology, it is a matter of convenience and features. Yes, modern smartphones have no problem displaying SD video, and you can surf the web on them. No, that doesn't mean you want to use only them.

    I just bought a new TV, it is a nice 46" LCD TV. Why did I do that, if my phone could play media? Because I want a 46" TV. When I want TV I want to sack out on my couch and have a nice large screen to watch on. I do not want to have to hold a phone right up to my face to see what is going on. For that matter I don't even want to watch on my computer. My computer has a nice screen, and it is plenty large for using close up, but I don't want to sit in my computer chair all the time. Likewise, it wouldn't work well to move the system out in to the living room and try to use it there. Hence, I have a TV. Even though I have other devices that could technically fulfill its function, they do not have the features, namely the size, that I want.

    I certainly think people will continue to consume media on their portable devices. After all, if you are in the doctor's office waiting it is convenient to have a device in your pocket that can entertain you. However that doesn't mean it'll become the primary or major way people get their media.

    A big problem, in terms of streaming to mobile phones, is that pesky little thing called Shannon's Law. It states that the amount of information you can get in a given channel equals the bandwidth (in Hz) of the channel times the log of the signal to noise ratio. Well this is a real problem for high speed sustained wireless. The frequencies you are working with aren't that wide. When you are working in the 1900MHz range, you can only have channels that are tens of MHz wide. You can't have 1GHz channels or anything. Also, because of the low signal levels (-80dBm or less generally) your SNR sucks. 20dB at best, and it can be as low as 6dB for GSM. That equals not a whole lot of bandwidth. Now it can be fine when people use it in spurts. You allow someone to use a bunch of channels and get a big transfer, then someone else can use them. However if everyone is trying to sustain downloads, as is the case in streaming media, you simply run out of bandwidth.

    Unfortunately, just upping the frequency isn't a solution either. The higher the frequency, the less penetrating power it has, and the more line of sight it is. A 100GHz signal could have great bandwidth, but won't even go through a wall. So in the frequency ranges that are useful, there's just only so much bandwidth you get.

    As such, you aren't likely to see anything replace TV and cable/fibre as the main video content delivery for most people. It is simply a nice way to watch. Phones will remain a peripheral device, used occasionally but not the main thing.

  • by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:46PM (#32472956)

    Probably you know this already, apologies in advance...

    In most metro areas these days you have small footprint systems, several per block. In larger buildings they are often placed on each floor, the antennas anyway. I'd be quite surprised if any single cell footprint had 5000 users at one time. Back when I was working in the field, this was more than 10 years ago now so things have probably progressed a bit, SS7 was almost always a 64kbps transmission going down one of the channels in the trunk. Overall the SS7 could handle maybe a maximum of 1000 concurrent users, I think the upper limit was 1024, but it's been a long time. Only a small fraction of this total are able to make actual voice calls. Bandwidth has always been pretty tight and likely always will be. Like you mentioned, the size of the cell site makes a big difference. Make that smaller and you can increase the available bandwidth to each user.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 06, 2010 @01:18AM (#32473482)

    At the moment they say they are against Flash but the problem is, whats the alternative?

    For a magazine app? How about an EBOOK?

    If they've got rich content, how about a PDF inside a viewer application? How does the New York Times do it? How does the MLB do it?

    Nothing about Wired's app required Flash; not having Flash didn't harm them in any way. They CHOSE to use a Flash translation tool, but it's not like their existing content was in Flash to begin with and it was just the path of least resistance...they just chose the wrong development tools.

    A bundle of high-resolution images is not a substitute for writing an app. Wired's clutter-your-homescreen with a different app per issue approach, and their bloated archive of essentially scanned images with page flips are both horrendously stupid ideas, irrespective of the tools used to create them.

    HTML5 has nothing to do with native applications. This isn't web content. This isn't Flash content having to be converted.

  • Apple network (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alfredo (18243) on Sunday June 06, 2010 @09:19AM (#32475142)
    Ever since Jobs returned, Apple has been about delivering content. They didn't want to take over enterprise, they wanted to take over Hollywood. I think it would be a great idea if Apple could compete with the cable companies. Most cable companies have no competition within their regions and can gouge us at will. We need Apple or some other entity to challenge them.

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