Why Apple Is Going To Make Your ISP Groan

As reported earlier today, Apple is apparently considering discontinuing the practice of selling boxed software in its retail stores in favor of online digital distribution through avenues like the Mac App Store. Delivering large software packages can potentially consume a lot of bandwidth and regular purchases can move users close to the arbitrary download limits that are frequently placed on their internet service. Combine this with the release of brilliant second generation Apple TV which can deliver streaming 720p HD content on demand and your ISP has just broken out in a sweat.

To illustrate a couple of software examples on the Mac App Store, Aperture 3 weighs in at around 600MB and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a hefty 6.9GB.  However, while not on the Mac App Store yet, Final Cut Studio, when including optional content can reach over 50GB.  Similarly, when looking at movie rentals on the Apple TV, a 720p two hour movie rental can be around 1.5GB and Netflix content can range anywhere from 300MB to 1.5GB depending on quality. This is where the issue lies.

Delivery of online content is a phenomenal resource.  The user can obtain software and media much more quickly than if they were to order it online or drive down to their local Apple retail store to pick it up.  The downside is that, as the size and complexity of software packages increase, the greater the amount of data that will require to be downloaded.  Many people complained that Apple had limited the second generation Apple TV to 720p quality rather than full 1080p quality.  This was an incredibly smart move, as the network infrastructure in many countries, including the US, would struggle to cope with that sort of network load.

If Apple does in fact move to predominantly offering digital downloads instead of boxed software and perhaps does offer 1080p movies with the Apple TV 3, internet service providers are going to have to deal with an exponential increase in bandwidth usage.  And while it’s unlikely that Apple would place massive programs such as Final Cut online in the near future, they are going to focus on making the Mac App Store every bit as popular as the iOS App Store has been.  And when some of the Mac apps are easily 100 times the size of iOS apps, look out for a collective groan from the ISPs.

My Download Is Bigger Than Yours

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  • Crunch

    2GB per month? That’s what I burn through a day, including even on my iPhone 4 on AT&T whenever I travel. I despise any attempt on the part of any level of government or “traditional” ISP to throttle (read: limit) my Internet speeds in any way. I am paying for unlimited usage on both and with tax, that comes to almost $100 per month. I even canceled my cable TV in favor of Netflix, Hulu Plus and my 2nd gen. Apple TV and mind you, I love movies and I like watching them in the highest quality available.

  • PWK

    Weili, I’m assuming your referring Net Neutrality when you say “this raises a different issue”. To put it in prospective 5% of Net users use 51% of the bandwidth and 25% use 85% overall, per Time Warner Cable (US). So, why shouldn’t the ISP be able to control cost for the average customer.

    Here in the US Net Neutrality is for all piratical purposes dead the next 4 years if not permanently. The US NN law’s that were attempted really hurt the average consumer. For example: instead of just throttling band width hogs like bit torrent users and you neighbor downloading GB of video during peak hour, they would be forced to throttle everyone: everyone suffers equally. At the end of the day NN is bad and ends up forcing the average user to subsidize the heavy users. Increase cost for everyone.

    “Under their self-proclaimed banner of “neutrality,” Google, eBay and other big online companies are lobbying for what amounts to a federal exemption from paying. Unfortunately, their thinly disguised effort at self-interest would dramatically shift the financial burden of paying for these upgrades onto the backs of ordinary consumers.”


  • Nigel Tufnel

    Aperture is not really an “alternative” to Photoshop, in fact many people use them together. It’s an alternative to Adobe Lightroom. There is some overlap in features, but Aperture and Photoshop are two different applications for different uses (and a large difference in price).

    • http://www.applebitch.com AppleBitch

      You’re right – corrected

  • Baldrel

    It really sucks for people like me: i have a 2.5gb limit and i am the highest plan i can get with my satellite broadband provider (bordernet, australia). i pay $100 a month for the tiniest of download limits. I love mac software and the move to the app store spells trouble for me. I am not saying no to the app store i am saying i would prefer it if they just had USB flash drives for all their big software like their OS’s.
    That being said, i love the mac app store, it has given me more opportunity to replace my old, outdated, payed for, apps, with new free ones. Easier on the pocket. It also makes me feel a little better about spending money on paid for apps as they are often cheaper on the mac app store (aperture!) and i am buying them from a trusted service (apple) rather than many other not so trusted sources (third party websites).

  • Weili

    This raises a different issue, why are consumers putting up with ISPs placing a bandwidth limit.

    • http://www.applebitch.com AppleBitch

      Absolutely – I’ve heard Comcast has a 250GB / month limit but Sky in the UK has a 2GB / month limit on their lowest package

      • Ipplad

        Its not just the ISP its also down to what your telephone line can cope with, in the UK until fiber is fully up and working in all areas the average speed is 2.5-3.5megs… most UK ISP have some form of throttle and some like the above post have a cap. Even if users paid for a better ISP chances are lines in the UK can not have the speeds it needs to downloand in a reasonable time…