2008 in review: The year in digital media

In a year when Apple focused most of its energy on the iPhone 3G, matters of the cloud, and updated computers, its digital media efforts continued at a steady—and incrementally more interesting—pace.

Movies, movies, movies

At January’s Macworld Expo, Apple took another whack at making the Apple TV more than just a hobby. Having realized that a set-top box that streams media from a computer to an attached TV and AV media system is a tough sell—regardless of whose logo is tattooed into the case—Apple attempted to give the Apple TV a leg-up by announcing that movie rentals would become a part of the iTunes Store’s catalog. Playable on computers, compatible iPods, iPhones, and Apple TVs, these rentals would be accessible directly from the Apple TV (running the 2.0 software)—no more trotting over to the computer to download content and then sync or stream it to the Apple TV.

Unlike in the past, the software allowed the device to play HD-quality video (720p) and 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound.

At that time you still had to purchase movies on your computer and then sync or stream those movies to the Apple TV—only rentals could be downloaded directly from the iTunes Store to the device. In May Apple made it possible to on the Apple TV.

Welcome as rentals were to the iTunes Store, there were a couple of flies in the ointment. The availability of content was first. Apple promised but missed the mark by . The Store’s catalog increased over time to the point where, by year’s end, it boasts over 2,750 rental movies.