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iPad Rumor Mill: Hulu, $1 TV Shows, and Still No Camera

ipad

We may know of its official existence now, but the the rumors surrounding the iPad haven't died down since its announcement. If anything, they've got more intense. In the latest crop: $1 TV shows, Hulu, definitely no camera, and the FCC.

$1 TV Shows in iTunes

This one's coming from the Financial Times, which has sometimes been near the target with Apple rumors, and it centers on pricing of TV shows on iTunes. According to the FT, Apple's reported to be moving from its $1.99 standard definition/$2.99 high def pricing model for at least some of the TV shows in its iTunes repertoire, timed to coincide with the iPad's launch. The idea would be to offer SD shows for just a single dollar as an incentive to potential iPad buyers, with the bonus that the iPad's 4:3 ratio screen size is exactly the same as traditional standard-definition TV.

It's pretty plausible that Apple would try something like this, especially after long-standing rumors that it was trying to push TV networks toward a $30 subscription model...an effort that seems to have failed. The FT is careful to note we don't know "which or how many of the U.S. free-to-air and pay-television networks have agreed to the lower pricing," so you won't be able to see if your fave show is in the list yet.

Let's just hope Apple's also been busy negotiating international rights for TV and movies too, since the iPad is getting a global launch and the TV and movies segments in iTunes have remained depressingly U.S.-centric.

Hulu iPad App?

Hulu would seem an ideal launch partner for the iPad, partly due to its excellent Web-streaming TV powers, partly due to those behind-the-scenes business tie-ups between Disney and Hulu and Disney and Apple. Hence its perhaps no surprise to learn from industry insiders (speaking to TechCrunch) that Hulu is already hard at work on an iPad app to give users access to its streams.

There're a few technical hurdles, like the fact that Hulu's entire front-end, advert placements and all, is heavily embroiled with Flash technology--and hence is iPad incompatible. But Hulu's videos are already encoded in H.264 format, and there are ways and means to getting the system running on an iPad (including HTML5 perhaps). So, color us intrigued.

No iPad Camera?

This is depressing to those hoping against hope that Apple just "forgot" to tell us about the iPad's built-in camera at its launch event. One of the big clues that suggested there may still be a camera on the shipping versions was in the iPad's SDK, where there were several visible clues that implied camera connectivity to particular apps, such as the address book.

Sadly these have been removed from the latest SDK beta release, as the screenshots below demonstrate.

iPad Camera

And that all but rings the death knell for the iPad's optical imaging powers. Unless Apple's being really sneaky, and camera skills will be reinstated in the actual shipping version of the SDK at the very last minute?

FCC May Pay Broadcasters to Vacate Bandwidth, For More iPad/iPhone-Like Gizmos

The last rumor today is the most eye-opening: According to an FCC official who has spoken with Business Week, the FCC is having to look again at the future of the airwaves it regulates, because high-data-drain devices like the iPhone and iPad (and the slew of 3G media-centric smartphones and tablets that will follow) may overly-strain the existing framework.

"We know there's a spectrum crunch, [...] We are just trying to come up with options" is how the FCC chap put it. And one option is to use cash generated by the recent airwave auctions to pay other transmitters to vacate specific airwaves.

In other words, the FCC expects the always-connected 3G and Wi-fi iPad (and presumably the next-gen iPhone) to strain the network so much that it'll have to have special provision made for it in the airwave plans. That fact alone is pretty amazing. But looked at with a future-seeing eye, it's actually almost inevitable: We know always-connected devices have benefits, and with cloud services becoming more and more important on a daily basis the FCC, and its sister organizations around the World, will simply have to adjust their plans.

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1 Comments

  • Harry Pujols

    No Flash, no big deal. No camera, a deal breaker. Apple makes puzzling decisions. The decision of locking the iPhone with AT&T prevented them for having a dominant market share and gave breathing room for competitors. The only device they got things right was the iPod.