CUPERTINO – To great fanfare, Apple, Inc. unveiled the iBetamax video recorder as part of its continuing venture into next generation technologies, following the passing of Apple visionary Steve Jobs. Apple says the iBetamax will “provide consumers the ability to record network television programming on smaller video cassettes and watch shows at their own leisure.”
Apple senior vice president, Bruce Schiller explained the iBetamax “is a giant leap forward for consumer entertainment as more and more people abandon those large and clunky VHS cassettes four Apple’s smaller, more portable cassettes.” Schiller said that the typical handbag can carry three or four Beta cassettes instead of just one VHS cassette.
Apple’s iBetamax video recorders are themselves four inches smaller than typical VHS recorders and can fit easily on top of most televisions. Apple senior vice president Ron Forstall added that unlike other video cassette recorders, the iBetamax uses “azimuth recording to reduce crosstalk.” When questioned as to the name, Forstall explained that Apple chose “Beta” because that was the shape of the Greek letter the magnetic tape made as it wound its way through the machine. “Of course, that’s internal and consumers won’t see it.” The reporters laughed. One skeptic asked how the iBetamax differed from the Betamax video recorder that Sony introduced in 1975. Forstall, stared for a moment and then answered, “‘Sony’? That’s not a real name, is it?” Everyone laughed again.
Apple says the iBetamax became available for pre-order on October 7 and available to purchase on October 23. Schiller announced that several hundred people had already ordered the iBetamax, “greatly exceeding anticipated figures.” The iBetamax will retail for $1699.00 or $1899.00 for upgraded internals, including the new Apple hifi frequency multiplexing. The rewind feature on both models is up to seven times faster than other video recorders. Apple says the iBetamax is available primarily through K-Mart, Walgreens, and Radio Shack. iBetamax will roll out worldwide to 4 countries by the end of November, including Mexico, Slovakia, Latvia, and Estonia.
In recent months, Apple has seemed immune to the overall moves of the market, consistently defying predictions that the recession would stifle appetite for its high-cost products. “Apple products are more expensive,” said Jane Suffolk, an analyst with First American Finances. “Clearly, right now the consumer doesn’t care: for some reason, consumers will spend more money to get Apple, and the iBetamax will be no exception.”
Apple senior vice president Peter Mansfield said, “with the passing of Steve Jobs (peace be upon him), many doubted Apple’s next forays in technology. Many thought Steve was our only visionary, but the introduction of the iBetamax has catapulted Apple into the future.” Before Jobs’s passing, rumors circulated that he had left Apple with four years of new product ideas. When asked if the iBetamax was part of Jobs’s four-year list, Mansfield said, “No. We’ve kept Steve’s list under tight lock and key and will get back to it someday. First, we needed to prove to ourselves that we could venture on without Steve holding our hands. We believe the iBetamax is making that case.”
Apple’s delight in the iBetamax line has worried some that it might distract from further developments in dominating products like the recently released iPhone 4S. Apple executives rushed to answer such claims and assured consumers that Apple has not give up on the iPhone device line. “But we do have to adapt to the times,” said Mansfield. “Apple will certainly continue to support the iPhone 4S for at least the next few months, maybe a bit more, even though consumers seem to have grown a bit tired of it.” Insiders suggest that Apple has already shifted entire plants over from iPhone to iBetamax production.
The iBetamax has created quite a buzz among technology reviewers. Many reviewers expressed confusion about how the iBetamax line interacts with Apples iCloud technology. Negative reviews have surfaced concerning the iBetamax’s inability to download video content from iTunes. Other reviewers have raved about the iBetamax rewind speeds. Several reviewers explained their simple, nostalgic delight in being able to watch The Blues Brothers and Caddyshack.
The largest complaint focuses on Apple’s requirement of a two year rate plan for the iBetamax, much like that for the iPhone series. Reviewers are unclear whether the rate plan includes iTune connectivity, but Apple has been slow to clarify, explaining that the plan includes “some form of electrical supply.”
Chief executive Tim Sewell said he was “thrilled” with the iBetamax and had more plans to wow customers in the future. “We’ve got a very strong lineup for the holiday season and some really great new products on the tracks for 2011,” he said.
Those products are rumored to include a new iBetamovie video camera, “which will enable users to record live right onto iBeta cassettes in a one-piece, shoulder-held unit.” Other product news is kept secret, but a string of reports suggest that Apple has been working on a rotary dial iPhone, as well as a computer tower for the iPad that “can sit snugly beneath a desk and also provide minimal foot heating in colder climates.”