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Apple Explored 4K Video Distribution in 2013

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Apple requested 4K video content from Sony Pictures for the purpose of digital distribution and on-demand streaming testing, according to a new document [PDF] released by WikiLeaks from the Sony data breach (via AppleInsider).


The document is a materials access letter from Culver Digital Distribution Inc, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment, to Apple. It served as a formal agreement between the two companies for the "testing and / or preparing" of 4K content from Sony movies and TV shows. The letter is dated September 26, 2013, hinting that Apple has been exploring distributing 4K content for the past two years.

The Cupertino company has been rumored to be working 4K in the past, most notably in 2013 when two reports suggested Apple was working on a 4K TV set. Those plans were eventually nixed and reports emerged of a brand new set-top box Apple TV with an A8 chip alongside a TV streaming service. Speculation suggested the new Apple TV's rumored A8 chip, which is capable of playing 4K content, would result in a 4K-capable Apple TV and streaming service. However, a report earlier this year confirmed that a new Apple TV would not support 4K content.

While 4K, also known as Ultra HD, has seen an increased amount of popularity recently with more affordable 4K TV sets from manufacturers and some availability of 4K content on streaming services like Netflix, the format is not yet ubiquitous.

Article Link: Apple Explored 4K Video Distribution in 2013
 

Andres Cantu

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May 31, 2015
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It seems probable that the Apple TV 4th generation will have 4K. The A8 chip can play it, the name matches nicely, and now this! Plus, they've released new Apple TVs when the iPhones get video recording upgrades (720p with the A4 and 1080p with the A5). Maybe now 4K with the A8?
 
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shenan1982

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Nov 23, 2011
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I was thinking how cool would it be for them to release a 4k (or 5k) 32 or 40 inch iMac. I would be in heaven. I have a 27" iMac 5k and a Thunderbolt display. If I could get a 32" or 40" iMac, I wouldn't need 2 monitors.
 
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shenan1982

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Nov 23, 2011
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I really hope Apple delivers an updated Apple TV with the ability to purchase content. I can't wait to tell my cable company to take a hike!

I wish they'd be able to, but there's not going to be a real replacement for cable any time soon. There are too many networks and too many licensing\contract issues in this country. It's not like the UK where there are two main broadcasters and one cable company. We've got many cable companies, many broadcast companies, many production companies, and all would have to get together and play nicely with each other, and that's just not realistic until people start cutting the cord in droves and send a message to them.
 
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unplugme71

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May 20, 2011
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I just hope that the movies purchased in the last few years that were filmed in 4K can be downloaded and not re-purchased as that would piss me and a lot of people off. I don't mind paying the difference in cost like with SD->HD. But I'm not about to re-purchase my library of HD->4K .
 
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Daalseth

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Jun 16, 2012
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4K TVs are so tantalizingly cheap, but where are the damn sources?!
Exactly. They could make 40k TVs and it would do as much good. My local cable company only does about a third of their stuff in HD and most of the HD is just "HD" copies of SD channels. 4K isn't even on the horizon yet. And streaming services? fugettaboutit. Not with the broadband packages we have.

4K will get here. 4K will be ubiquitous. But not for another 5 to 10 years. Without content or pipes it's just bragging rights that mean nothing.
 
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Vanilla35

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Apr 11, 2013
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I wish they'd be able to, but there's not going to be a real replacement for cable any time soon. There are too many networks and too many licensing\contract issues in this country. It's not like the UK where there are two main broadcasters and one cable company. We've got many cable companies, many broadcast companies, many production companies, and all would have to get together and play nicely with each other, and that's just not realistic until people start cutting the cord in droves and send a message to them.

I'm not sure that'll be the case. I believe the message would be sent akin to how rental dvd's died. The problem with current cable is everything rolls on a schedule. In addition, having a personal unit which people bought themselves and can sympathize and appreciate (apple tv) - as well as the ability to watch content anytime they want (one of the star "netflix" features) will make it the new future of home television. I find it to be sort of inevitable, but it's true that there is the potential for broadcasters to deny as much as possible and it could lead to subpar content, at least in terms of volume.
 
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shenan1982

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Nov 23, 2011
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I'm not sure that'll be the case. I believe the message would be sent akin to how rental dvd's died. The problem with current cable is everything rolls on a schedule. In addition, having a personal unit which people bought themselves and can sympathize and appreciate (apple tv) - as well as the ability to watch content anytime they want (one of the star "netflix" features) will make it the new future of home television. I find it to be sort of inevitable, but it's true that there is the potential for broadcasters to deny as much as possible and it could lead to subpar content, at least in terms of volume.

Look at who owns several of the major networks.... Comcast aka NBC Universal. Can't believe the government allowed this all to happen. Absurd.
 
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nagromme

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May 2, 2002
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I really hope Apple delivers an updated Apple TV with the ability to purchase content. I can't wait to tell my cable company to take a hike!

I've never had cable in my life, even as a kid, and I've never pirated either--yet there's more great content for me to watch than hours in the day--at least in the US--all for way cheaper than a cable package.

Try this: get HBO NOW and Netflix Streaming, one at a time, alternating every 3 months. (Or Showtime's new service, or Amazon Prime, or whatever system has a few months of content you like.) Shows on other networks you need to keep up on right now? Buy them on iTunes--you'll find you can buy a LOT of shows before coming anywhere near the yearly total for cable. Shows you don't mind waiting a year for? Your library has the DVDs, and you can reserve them online and have them sent to your nearest branch (or even your home). Want to follow network shows? Every network streams them anyway (on Hulu or via their own site/app). Don't overlook PBS for streaming some great British series. Want to watch a certain movie now? Rent it on Tunes—again, you can do that a lot before reaching cable costs.

(It helps that I don't care about sports, which is why I don't want to subsidize player salaries via forced payment for bundled sports channels.)
 
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shenan1982

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Nov 23, 2011
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But that's the free market!!

So Apple goes to NBComcastUniversal and says "Hey, we want to give our customers an option to cancel their cable service (you), and pay only for what they want to us (instead of paying for everything including what they don't want (you). Is that ok?" ... what do you think the reply will be from ComcastNBCuniversalWorldDominationCompany?
 
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F4C4

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Jul 3, 2012
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I don't really understand the hype around 4k... The difference in resolution (HD vs 4K) is not noticed from a distance... And streaming will not have full resolution and frame rate anyways!

3D, 4K and curved screens are desperate attempts to make people upgrade their TVs...

Keep your HD TV or buy a bigger screen instead!
 
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seamer

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Jul 24, 2009
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Considering the next atv has yet to be announced, any reports "confirming" the lack of any feature should not be relied on as a guaranteed source.
 
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SteveBlobs

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Jan 29, 2013
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With my DSL connection I can stream Netflix or HBOGO, but downloading iTunes movies has always been out of the question. The idea of waiting for a 4k movie to download gives me shudders.
 
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shenan1982

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Nov 23, 2011
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When you look at the pro-government stuff on their networks, it's pretty easy to see why.

Yep, sad our country was founded on freedom from government oppression yet we're the poster-child for government controlled media. And our leaders point fingers at north Korea and China... we're just as bad, lol
 
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I don't really understand the hype around 4k... The difference in resolution (HD vs 4K) is not noticed from a distance... And streaming will not have full resolution and frame rate anyways!

Very same thing said when :apple:TV was limited to 720p and some of us wanted it to go 1080p. Funny how before Apple embraces something it doesn't make much sense... but after they move, it makes great sense (go back and look at 1080p wish threads when 720p was Apple's max, or bigger screen phone threads, or NFC, or even front-facing "iSight" cameras when iPad 1 was launched, etc).

Why bother with a 5K iMac since we sit the same distance from the non-5K iMac screen? Why bother with retina-screens at all when we look at them from the same distance as non-retina screens?

4K is the next big thing in screens. If it can't make sense to us today, it shouldn't make sense when Apple embraces it either. BUT, like bigger screen phones or 1080p or 5K iMac or NFC or Retina screens on anything or FaceTime cameras on iPads, our collective sentiment will "evolve with the times" as soon as Apple decides to go there.

That said, I'm much encouraged by this rumor. The hardware must lead; it never makes sense for the software to come first. Personally, I don't really care if there is ever 4K content in the iTunes store; 4K playback means sharper pictures on 4K screens, our own 4K content shot on 4K camcorders will play back that much sharper, and so on. Eventually a Studio would be tempted to test 4K movie profitability; it they make a profit, they'll do more. And competition will want to compete.

There's no downside. The "1080p is good enough" (or the "no one will be able to see a difference") crowd could still enjoy their 1080p to the fullest, as better hardware can always player lighter software to it's MAX. Even the "720p is good enough" crowd could still enjoy their 720p video to it's fullest too... just like older software written for Macs several years ago will run just fine on brand new Mac hardware just made. My current :apple:TV plays my choice of 1080p, 720p or even SD video. Should a 4K option come along, I'd expect it to simply be one more option (not forcing anyone to buy a 4K TV if they are happy with whatever TV they have now).
 
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Sonmi451

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Thank goodness. Probably another year or so away, but we need some kind of 4K distribution and delivery system. Broadcast is taking too long, films are ready though.
 
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