Here is what I think is happening with the Apple TV hard drive. I think sometime this summer Apple will ship a firmware upgrade for the Apple TV and it will suddenly gain an important new capability. That’s when the Apple TV becomes a node on the iTunes peer-to-peer video network.
If the Apple TV is plugged in it is turned on. Did you notice that? That means the hard drive will have at least the capability of running 24/7. Now envision a BitTorrent-like file distribution system that is controlled primarily by iTunes, rather than by you or me. A centrally controlled P2P system is VERY powerful because it allows for the pre-positioning of content.
Say Disney releases Cars 1.5 — a direct-to-DVD release expected to sell millions of copies in its first few days. There is no way iTunes could even hope to participate in a launch like that simply because there isn’t enough bandwidth at a good price — or any price. Even BitTorrent would have troubles handling a small part of such a launch until enough seeds were populated and running. But what if the movie was effectively pre-seeded — loaded over a few days on a distribution tree of thousands of Apple TV boxes which could then deliver the movie locally at high speed if purchased. Or if not purchased the seeded copies could still work together to serve other Apple TVs on the same ISP subnet.
Let’s say this is true. How soon will it be hacked for real P2P?