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Apple Stakes Claim to Living Room

Hoping to become a player in the “integrated home network,” Apple introduces a new device to link computers and televisions.

  • September 13, 2006

The Holy Grail for the home network is to create a seamless environment where people can easily move their media–be it television, pictures, or music–from one device to another. Microsoft already offers a network adapter for PCs and televisions. And devices such as Slingbox turn any PC into a television.

Now Apple is joining the fray, announcing that it will begin selling movie downloads from Disney, while unveiling a new device that will allow consumers to watch those movies on television.

CNet’s News.com has a description of the iTV product:

The iTV unit is basically a wireless router with ports for video connections to televisions, including an HDMI port for high-definition digital televisions. The idea is to hook it up to a television or set-top box as another video input device, and access video content stored on a Mac or PC through a special Apple remote control, Jobs said.

There is skepticism that the device will take off. Apple faces stiff competition in this market, according to this BBC article, and there is no promise that the company’s well-established foothold in the music market will translate into a successful launch of its new movie service and the soon-to-be-released iTV hardware.

These networking products have been offered before, but their complexity have frightened off consumers.

Apple has two advantages on this front. First, the company is known for creating easy-to-use, plug-and-play applications. Second, Apple integrated its popular iTunes music service with the new device, insuring that its users can also listen to their music libraries through their televisions.

Integrating the music service into their new device isn’t groundbreaking, since other services allow the same functionality; however, iTunes is the leading digital music service, ensuring a broad reach for its initial offering.

From the Reuters article:

The iTunes music and video software, used by 70 million consumers, got a major overhaul on Tuesday. Apple’s media transfer box, code-named iTV and expected in January for $299, will move content to the TV via iTunes.

“If we hadn’t talked about iTV today, one of the first questions would have been, ‘This is great, I can watch movies on my computer and the iPod, but what about my TV?’ ” Jobs told USA TODAY. “So we decided to do something uncharacteristic and give a sneak peek.”

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