Indy DVD Website

This post was published more than a few years ago (on 2003-10-26) and may contain inaccurate technical information, outmoded thoughts, or cringe takes. Proceed at your own risk.

So, the new Indiana Jones DVDs boast:

Exclusive DVD-ROM Content: Each of the Indiana Jones DVDs has the ability to unlock exclusive Indiana Jones content, available only through a special DVD-ROM website. An additional link to the web site (the official site for Indiana Jones fans) will offer regular features and updates on the upcoming Indiana Jones 4.

Now, that's all well and good. What they don't happen to mention is that to access this special website, you must be running the InterActual Player 2.0, which only runs on Windows. Granted, they merely require Windows 98 SE or higher, which I could easily run in Virtual PC… but it's the principle. And the principle is, "Hey, what gives?"

Way back when this same player was called the PC Friendly Player, they had posted information on their web site about a forthcoming Mac version. Now, this was back in… oh, probably 1999 or 2000, so I know there's a lot of lost time there, but you would think, in the intervening three or four years, they might have come up with something. On the contrary— they have now renamed their player, and removed all trace of ever contemplating a Mac version from their site.

Now, I understand there are business issues involved. The Mac is only 3-4% of the market, yadda, yadda. What I don't get is that they, at some point, decided to work on a Mac version, and then at some nebulous point in the recent past, reneged on that promise. I mean, as far as I understand it, the DVD-ROM content on these (and innumerable other) discs is compiled for that player. So, in theory, if they were to produce a Mac player, all of this content would be magically opened up to us Mac users. All they need to do is sit down and spend a little amount of time on porting the player to the Mac, right?

Well… maybe not.

See, on the Wintel side of things, there are various 3rd-party DVD players to choose from, and they can choose one or more of those, and work with some of the components from those players to make their special player run. Not so on the Mac side. Thought there conceivably could be such a choice, there isn't. Apple's DVD player is the only game in town. So, if they want to get their special player to work on the Mac, they'll have to work with Apple to integrate it with their player. Which is most likely where the problem lies.

Apple has become notoriously difficult to work with as far as developers go— unless of course, you're a huge developer upon which the very existence of a sizable percentage of the Mac user base relies. The little guys, though? No dice. You'll be lucky for Apple to give you a second glance. Which is a shame, honestly. Partnering with exactly these kinds of small developers that could have such a large impact on the use of the Mac platform could be a very good thing for Apple right now. Sure, Apple has gained momentum in the last few years, mainly thanks to their newfound strength in the video market, but they could sure use a little boost in the home user department, which is exactly the area that this kind of "enhanced DVD experience" software would target.

Now, I'm not usually one to pinpoint something and say, "Apple should be doing this," because, let's face it, I'm not exactly a business management guru. But I will break tradition this once and say, not that Apple should be helping InterActual specifically, but that perhaps they should think about partnering with the small developers a bit more. It can't hurt to help the little guy, when you're the little guy yourself.