Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Apple forges path to digital living room

SAN FRANCISCO--Apple Computer overhauled its digital music and video offerings on Tuesday, introducing new iPods in three categories and announcing plans to make movies available for purchase through the iTunes store.

Movies from four studios owned by The Walt Disney Company will be available on iTunes 7, the new version of the download software, the same day they are released to DVD, said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in outlining the new offerings at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts here. Preorders and movies purchased in the first week will cost $12.99; the price then bumps up to $14.99 for new releases.

The studios are Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Touchstone Pictures, and Miramax, and older titles will also be available for $9.99.
Apple Showtime

Those movies can be watched on new iPods with brighter screens and more capacity. The movies can be downloaded in near-DVD quality, Jobs said. Consumers with broadband speeds of 5 megabits per second will be able to download movies from iTunes in 30 minutes, he added.

"The big theme today was Apple announced its intentions to take over your living room," said Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray.

Apple also plans to introduce a product in the first quarter of 2007 that lets consumers stream their movies or music to televisions, Jobs said. The new device, code-named iTV, has 802.11 wireless built in. It will sell for $299 and works with PCs and Macs. "We think it completes the picture here," Jobs said.

Apple would not say which flavor of 802.11 wireless networking the iTV would use. "We're not talking about the technology inside iTV," Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller said in an interview. "That's next year's discussion."


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