What will happen with iTunes pricing when 4K comes along?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Hermes Monster, Jun 8, 2017.

  1. Hermes Monster, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

    Hermes Monster macrumors 65816

    Hermes Monster

    May 4, 2010
    I guess you need to go back to when HD came along, does anyone have any recollection of that and what happened on the iTunes store?

    I'm wondering if they'll have three pricing tiers; 4K, HD and SD? Will HD drop to SD prices, or will 4K just be even more expensive? Will SD vanish altogether?

    In the UK, the prices are generally HD £13.99 and SD £9.99. I can't imagine ever wanting to pay £17.99 (for example) for a digital movie.

    Obviously, we're just guessing here ...

    EDIT - found a news archive post, apparently HD movies were $19.99 originally - not sure how that compares to current US prices?
  2. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    All you can really get here to much of this is guesses. Mine:
    • There will be 3 pricing tiers: SD, HD, 4K. So...
    • SD will not be discontinued (some stuff is only available in SD)
    • 4K will probably be priced higher than HD, instead of cutting the pricing of HD versions
    • People can set a default format for downloads. If they don't want a 4K file, they can set the default "as is" now such that the launch of 4K has no net effect on them
    • 4K files will likely be h.265 (which will likely require new generations of iDevices if one wants to play those on iDevices)
    • 4K files will require an :apple:TV5 for playback (the "4" won't play it)
    • Audio codec will probably still be Dolby Digital 5.1 or 7.1 at best (instead of stepping up to more modern options like Atmos, and other newer Dolby and DTS options typical of Blu Ray HD and 4K). Thus, 4K Blu Ray will still be the "maximum quality picture & sound" option for those that care about picture & sound quality.
    All best guesses. My questions:
    • Will non-4K video migrate to h.265 too (obviously not immediately)?
    • HDR implementation?
    • Anything proprietary about Apple's implementation?
    • Will the 4K :apple:TV5 cost more than the "4"?
    • Will the 4K :apple:TV5 bring something substantially more than basically being a "4" with 4K? And
    • WHEN does all this arrive?
  3. Hermes Monster, Jun 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2017

    Hermes Monster thread starter macrumors 65816

    Hermes Monster

    May 4, 2010
    All good points

    I wouldn't be surprised to see everything migrate to h.265 at some point, it's been mentioned a lot for the other devices, so it makes sense to me.

    This round of software updates has a feeling of Apple starting to work with more standards, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the 5 support numerous sound and video standards, especially given Amazon coming on board.

    I also think they'll do something with the HomePod, having a number of those working with your ATV instead of a surround sound is appealing to me.

    I'm expecting it to come at the end of this year, and coincide with the HomePod release. Makes perfect sense to me
  4. kiranmk2 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2008
    I think 4K content will be exclusive to the latest devices - iPhone 7 / iPad Pro 2 / ATV5 (i.e. A10 chips). There is some debate about the A9 devices - apparently they do support HEVC hardware decoding, but I'm not sure about 4K on this chip and with Apple being Apple, I can't see it happening. 4K will be a new, higher price tier and will feature HDR (chance for Dolby Vision perhaps as Disney was waiting for Dolby Vision to enter the 4K market and we know how close Disney and Apple are) and probably Dolby Atmos sound (I don't know if this will be proper Atmos spacial sound or the cut back version that is featured in some TVs this year).

    Then, in a few years time (2019?) when all tiers of Apple iOS devices (iPad, iPad Pro, iPhone x/x+/SE) have at least an A10 chip they will drop the pricing of 4K to where HD is now and then drop the pricing of HD to where SD is now and at that price give you HD if available, or SD if there is no HD available.

    In terms of codec, I can see them sticking with h.264 for SD and 720p and when the pricing tiers shift move new 1080p content over to HEVC too to save on storage space/bandwidth.
  5. priitv8 macrumors 68030

    Jan 13, 2011
    AFAIK, Dolby Atmos can ride piggybacked on either DD+ or TrueHD. So actually iTunes Store is already halfway there.
    Lower bandwidth DD+ version will also suit the bill of broadcasters better, than TrueHD.
    Source: Dolby Whitepaper
  6. Creek0512 macrumors 6502

    Jun 15, 2012
    Apple WWDC - Introducing HEIF and HEVC
  7. mac.cali macrumors 65816

    Mar 16, 2012
  8. epca12 macrumors regular

    Jun 11, 2017
    But couldn't they just merge the SD and HD pricing, so if it's available in HD you pay the same price for it? So SD-only content wouldn't matter.
  9. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    They can do whatever they want. However, some content is only available in SD and some people are hung up on file sizes, craving smaller SD files instead of larger HD ones (just as there are those worried about 4K files sizes and bandwidth demands vs. HD).
  10. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    The didn't do that before when they went from SD to Full Screen 1080 versions!
  11. cynics, Jun 16, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2017

    cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Good questions. If I were to guess.

    h.265 maybe used exclusively with their 4k content. Since the ATV5 will be the only device that can output 4k that doesn't rely on Intel decoders they won't need to worry about decoding it on anything that doesn't support h265. Meanwhile h264 will be around for nearly ever since they need to support current devices which remain most of their customer base for a very long time. I'm not sure how they actually serve the content, if its just few master copies that are copied to servers then they main transcode some older titles to save on bandwidth. However if for whatever reason they transcode hundreds/thousands of copies (not sure why that would make sense but for sake of argument) the CPU usage expense could outweigh the bandwidth saved.

    Which btw I think its a safe bet to say they will use h265 but there isn't much holding them back from making their own video compression format like Googles VP9. I'm confident it won't happen but they certainly have the means to make something just as efficient if not more so especially considering they are in control of the hardware, media, and servers.

    It will need to support h265 though for better Mac support unless they plan on make their compression format open source. Also the iPhone 6 and later have been using h265 for FaceTime.

    I think by the time Apple rolls out 4k content HDR will be a requirement. I doubt they will use 12 bit Dolby Vision though. Since they manufacture the hardware they will need to pay royalties to Dolby in a market that HDR 10 bit already has a strong foothold. Honestly I can't see a difference between them as much as I try.

    When referencing the media itself I doubt we will see anything more proprietary then we do now with iTunes. They can't really alter the media itself.

    Cost. I think it will cost more, because Apple is Apple. I think they will sell the ATV4 and 5 side by side as a 1080p version and 4k version. Depending on the market though the ATV5 could cost the same with a price drop on the ATV4. I would be prepared for larger storage sizes with prices that reflect that too (but don't reflect reality).

    I doubt we will see much more on the hardware side aside from a speed bump. But they might throw an 'ecosystem' feature in. I can't imagine what but something like geofencing with the iPhone to play music when you walk in the door (just an example I don't think it will actually have that).

    It will arrive when other manufacturers move on to something new the ATV5 doesn't have.

    What do you think about my guesses? What are yours?

    EDIT: Just saw the keynotes on HEVC so we can toss that other format stuff I mentioned out the window. Interesting thought though.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 16, 2017 ---
    Love your GITS avatar btw. I thought what I'd do was I'd pretend to be one of those deaf mutes....seems like something Apple is practicing with the ATV actually!

    I'm leary of Apple using anything they would need to pay for (Dolby), even as much as they like to do it with their MFi.

    I think h264 will stick around across the board (less 4k) so they can maximize store profit. The more I think about this I think they would even take it to a point the break even or even at a very slight loss so they can bolster iTunes revenue to investors. That doesn't mean they can store both versions on their servers though to save bandwidth. Meaning you get h265 1080p movie with ATV5 and I get h264 1080p movie with ATV4. I just don't have any data center knowledge to know the premium of storage vs bandwidth.
  12. kiranmk2 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2008
    I'd normally discard the possibility of Dolby Vision, but given Apple already licence Dolby Digital and given the relationship between Apple, Disney and Dolby I think there is a chance Apple could licence Dolby Vision as a differentiating factor for Apple TV. I'm sure Apple could negotiate a large discount on the required chips and licence fees.

    In terms of AVC vs HEVC I can see Apple maintaining both versions of 1080p files - storge is cheap but if AppleTV takes off (finally), the bandwidth saved (probably 6-7 GB for AVC and 3-4 GB for HEVC at 1080p) would be worth it over time. If the AppleTV 4 and A8 chip support HEVC at 1080p, the gradual switch over to HEVC could happen much quicker.
  13. Blair Paulsen macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2016
    San Diego, CA USA
    It would rock if the ATV5 includes support for the major HDR types: HDR10, DolbyVision and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma).
    A 10-bit pipeline from source media all the way to the display, with no dithering, would be my preference for a solid balance between quality and data load. I can wait until ATV6 for 12-bits, especially since 99.99% of displays in use today are 10-bits or less at the panel (a few more than that can support 12-bit signalling, but are still 10-bit at the panel). The DCI spec, used for showing theatrical releases, is 12-bits already - that said, I'd be curious what percentage of projection systems in local multiplexes can actually drive their light engines at 12 bits. FWIW, when the DCI was testing formats, they concluded that 10 bits was insufficient to show subtle color variations, so it does matter. That said, bandwidth realities will make UHD/4K@12 bits overly cumbersome for mass market distribution until at least 2020.
  14. Hermes Monster thread starter macrumors 65816

    Hermes Monster

    May 4, 2010
    A new Apple TV is likely to be the thing that makes me want to upgrade to a 4K TV. Right now, it just doesn't interest me, as the ATV is my main source, HDMI-1. The more standards it supports, the better!
  15. Snoopy4 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 29, 2014
    I figure most titles will be $24.99, but you'll be able to pick them up after a bit for $14.99 to $19.99. Sales will let them go for $9.99 to $12.99. Basically a $5 premium.
    --- Post Merged, Jun 27, 2017 ---
    I think Dolby Vision is a given.
  16. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth

    There is no reason or h.265 but only for 4K.... really... better compression suited for it. H.264 may be not better then H.265, but its still good compression.. Perhaps over time time, but i don't see Apple just shifting every to H.264 just because its suddenly now "crappy compression" It's good enough. But i guess your always going to move to that stronger period.

    Defiantly possible Apple can't do the same price for 4K...They may have 'magic powers' but the magic is not THAT good yet.

    Hopefully HDR, but i doubt this until we see 4K... I still say we won't see a 4K Apple TV, until we see 4K iTunes content... When was there a time Apple TV 3+ came out before u could rent anything ?
  17. Scarpad macrumors 68000


    Jan 13, 2005

    prices set by studios not apple
  18. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Can't make $1 from 4K content for :apple:TV before there are 4K :apple:TVs in homes... even if EVERYTHING was availble in 4K today. Hardware must lead, not follow. Note how many apps are already for sale in the iPhone App Store exclusively for iPhone 8 or the next gen iOS. Again, hardware must lead.

    :apple:TV launched simultaneously with some 1080p iTunes content. It made no sense back then to put 1080p in the store before anyone had a 1080p :apple:TV on which to play it.

    Thus, expectations is for a "big reveal" show introducing :apple:TV5 and some content in 4K in the store to rent for it... just as it went when Apple rolled out :apple:TV3. Nothing else makes $ense.
  19. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts

    Historically, changes to media format (78>LP, LP>CD, VHS>DVD, DVD>BlueRay, SD>HD etc.) have been a trigger for price increases. Those increases often bore no relation to the cost of producing the media - the justification was improved quality. The old format prices didn't drop - they were the same content and quality today as they were yesterday. Purely a matter of the new format being worth more.
  20. 400 macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2015
    Not sure what the score is in the US but a casual look through various outlets selling DVD/Bluray and the number of DVD (as the lesser format in the UK) seem to far outnumber Bluray (1080p etc), 4k is still a minority in the extreme on local shop shelves. Would the consumer actively take this up?

    I expect most TV's in the home (UK) are now 1080p capable but are the players? It would seem many are buying a SD version of films still and in great quantities. I do remember when HD first came out and many people were buying 720p screens thinking it was the full blown 1080i (UK). The rational went "it said HD on the front of the TV so it must be". There will be a lot of confusion for the consumers.

    I want 4k and chase it where I can, Bluray, streaming (ISP has no cap), but what would the Apple business model be? e.g. £25 for Planet Earth II discs is well worth it, it is absolutely stunning filmed and mastered in greater than 4K. Yet £20 for a film that was mastered in less than 4k and probably a bit of 2k in the mix comes across as not as good (still a good visual feast though). Then they have to squeeze it down the pipe to the TV.

    I would really want to see a demo or three before taking the plunge. But I wonder if the issue will be getting the average viewer to take it up.
  21. HobeSoundDarryl, Jun 28, 2017
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    The issue with this kind of thinking though is that EVERYTHING works like that. Home many apps are in the iOS store right now that exclusively work on iPhone 8 or iOS11? None. So should that mean that Apple shouldn't roll out an iPhone 8 or iOS11 until more than the minority of "software" exclusively for new hardware is on those virtual shelves?

    How many Mac apps exclusively for iMac Pro is in the Mac app store right now? None. So should Apple hold off on developing new Macs until that store is increasingly loaded with software explicitly for new hardware?

    How many PS5 games are on shelves now? How many Xbox <next console> games are on shelves now? And on and on.

    Video is just "software" for hardware players. If everything in the iTunes store today could roll out a 4K version of the software for 4K:apple:TV's, how much money could be made for all the work in creating those versions? Not $1. Why not? Because hardware must lead. You roll out a 4K:apple:TV or an iPhone 8 or an iMac Pro or a PS5 with new hardware capabilities and the software follows to exploit the new capabilities. It never works the other way because no one can make a buck on software that has nothing on which to run.

    Was there an :apple:TV4 app store full of apps well before there was an :apple:TV4? No. Why not? Hardware must lead. Roll out hardware newly capable of something and software follows.

    This will be no different. Retail shelves always lag behind "latest & greatest" hardware. If we have to wait until software climbs out of the minority before rolling out any new hardware on which such software is meant to run, almost all technical innovation ceases with the "as is" because the "as is" is where the software money can be made now.

    Will consumers actively take up 4K? Will consumers actively take up a PS5 when that arrives? Will they take up an iPhone 8 when that arrives? The answer here is, does it even matter? If better hardware is rolled out and consumers don't take up 4K, that better hardware will still play 1080p or 720p or SD to it's fullest potential. It's hardware will likely run faster & better. It may come with a few other hardware features to make other parts of the :apple:TV experience better. No big loss if consumers take this up or not.

    Look for example at TouchID or Apple Pay. Neither of those had any Apple consumer uptake before they were implemented. But Apple rolled them out anyway. Software in general is still "catching up" to using either or both technologies but I wouldn't want the pace of uptake to make Apple hold back rolling such hardware advances out. Instead, I'd rather they roll the advances out so that the software and update can opt to take them up.
  22. jdusoccer12 macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2008
    I wouldn't be surprised if Apple and Disney are teaming up to reveal 4K together later this year. Disney is still not releasing anything in 4K and with their tight partnership with Apple it would make sense. A new Apple TV, 4K Disney movies on the iTunes Store and updated Disney Movies Everywhere app for the Apple TV with 4K movies. They could have some exclusive deal for some amount of time between the two to test everything then when they are both ready Disney could put their movies on other platforms in 4K and Apple could open up the iTunes store to other movie companies.

    I am just wondering if they will allow you to pay a fee to update your current library or how that will work.
  23. Jayderek macrumors 6502


    Jun 28, 2010
    Madison, WI
    I really hope this is addressed. I would love to pay a small fee (per movie) to upgrade certain ones to 4K. I know this didn't happen when the 1080p option was announced, but I'm hoping something is different for this.
  24. Joined:
    Jun 28, 2017
    Very interesting and the success or non-success of 4K in the iTunes store will be price! There's no way that i'd pay over £13.99 for a film in 4K. Most HD new films are £9.99 on the iTunes store with a few being £13.99 and there's no way that i'd pay that for a download. I tend to buy my films in HD either from iTunes (especially when they drop the price to £4.99 or £3.99 for a week) or VIMEO. I bought two skateboarding and skiing films in 4K from VIMEO and they were around £12.80 (£3 more than their 1080p equivalent).
    I also find £4.49 too much for a iTunes rental. Usually, I go for the 'Treat yourself Tuesday' or £1.99 / 99p deals. I'm also a very 'casual' viewer for TV - one film a week.
    Out of interest, I'm the only person that I know who actually 'pays' for my download films! I'd say 99% of people that I talk to (18-35) would never pay for a stream/downloaded film. (one even argued - 'Why should you have to pay when you pay £41 a month for broadband?' - he's got a point :)
    From what I can see, it's all down to price!
  25. 400 macrumors 6502

    Sep 12, 2015
    It was an observation more than anything on what appears to be peoples viewing habits/cost, un scientific based on what I am seeing at the shelves not what Apple should do. And I think this will be affected by price if it is done.

    I hope Apple will do it and do it right, aim for the people that have bought 4k ready TV and say "hey, you want content, we got it". The cost, as per OP question, will play into the people that have the kit. It seems that many still watch in a lessor format and be happy with it. This will affect pricing I assume. Also I cannot imagine how they work out the pricing models across countries.

    However if I am to pay, for example, £15 for a film, then the quality had better be good. A few more quid and I get the hard copy at a better quality (OK, bit rates and coders and compression etc etc can be misleading and a whole subject matter on their own). Rental at the right price then I can forego quality to a small extent, say a film I am happy to watch once but not buy.

    I have not got one (Apple TV) at the moment because it is HD only. It will be cost and how it works, it will need a wow factor past my ISP provided 4K, that is very good but limited content, and my 4k player with its benefits (and drawbacks) and HDR. The UK is a different market to the US as it is different to Japan etc. etc. Hate to work that lot out.:)

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