Okay, I'll admit that (a) I'm privileged enough to own an Apple iPod and (b) that I enjoy using it a great deal. I'll also say that I have one of the earlier-generation models--not one of the newer, fancier ones with colors, video screens, and gargantuan hard drives, but a more modest one with room enough for a modest music collection.
I'm intrigued--and disturbed--by Apple's recent decision to start selling television programs for use on iPods for US$1.99. I suppose the price is cheap enough if you have a video-capable iPod, and, besides, it's nice to have an opportunity to view a favorite show on demand. But in my more Orwellian moments, I have this vision of already expensive pay-for television getting even more expensive. I currently pay about US$50/month for basic cable television services. Now imagine a world in which typical television services (off-air, cable, and satellite) have been replaced by subscriptions to iPod/iTunes-distributed TV. Figuring that a typical TV program in the U.S. runs about 22 episodes per season, that would mean an annual subscription to any given program would set you back about US$44 (assuming no subscriber discounts, which would result in commercials getting spliced back into the programs). That's almost the cost of my monthly cable bill, and that's just for the right to download a single season of a single program.
Apple's decision to distribute TV programming through its iPod/iTunes service is genius--in that devilish, capitalist kind of way. Assuming the service catches on, the potential economic windfall for both the TV producers and for Apple could be astonishing. Of course, their astonishing revenue stream very well could mean emptier pockets for those of us on the receiving end of things.