Analyst: ‘media companies will call Apple to strike deals, Front Row is Media Center done right’

“Already dominating the digital music market, Apple hopes to broaden its reach into video — and the living room,” Troy Wolverton reports for TheStreet.com. “CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday announced three updated products, all with the video theme, including, as expected, a pair of new iPod models that will play movies and music videos. But Jobs didn’t stop there, introducing an updated version of Apple’s iMac desktop computer that enables owners to launch and play digital videos, DVDs and music using a remote control.”

“And he announced a new version of the company’s iTunes music store that will allow customers to purchase videos, including first-run television programs, including the hit ABC series Desperate Housewives, and short films from the Jobs-headed Pixar,” Wolverton reports. “Prior to Wednesday’s announcement, Van Baker, an analyst with Gartner, was skeptical that Apple would launch a video iPod because of the lack of potential movie content. But following the presentation, Baker said he was impressed by the content that Apple lined up, particularly the deal with Disney.”

“Although the amount of content that Apple has in iTunes won’t be enough long-term, Baker says it’s a good start and predicted that other media companies soon will be calling Apple to strike their own deals,” Wolverton reports. “Baker also was impressed with the new remote-control software. Baker envisions Apple possibly putitng the same software, called Front Row, on other models and incorporating a TV tuner on those computers for a full multimedia experience. Contrasting Front Row with Microsoft’s rival offering, Baker said ‘Front Row is Media Center PC done right. It’s simple.'”

“Apple representatives declined to say whether Front Row would be made available for other Apple computers. The new remote control will work with both the iMac and iPod accessories, but Apple wouldn’t say if it would work with other Apple computers,” Wolverton reports.

Full article here.

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18 Comments

  1. For this video downloading to really take off, the quality will have to increase.

    Check out Apple’s new iPod ad here:

    http://www.apple.com/ipod/ads/

    That excellent video is 640×480 pixels at 2.3 mbits/sec H.264 compared to iTunes current 320×240 at 600kbits/sec.

    That kind of higher downloadable quality would really start a buzz.

    As far as the general “Front Row” experience goes, I’d like to create a playlist of a music selection followed by a few cartoons and then a feature film all of which play like a real theater experience . This would be ultra cool but alas I don’t think Front Row is quite there yet, but you gotta start somewhere.

    Glad to see Apple’s Digital Hub strategy starting to take shape!!

  2. iPod Video?
    Tooo small. What for? On its own ….. Useless.
    Front Row?
    Why?
    Useless. Why not use your DVD player.
    I can’t wait to replace my 65 in. HDTV with a 20″ iMac!!!!
    Does anyone else feel these updates are useless.
    Note I am not saying they will not sell as I feel they will. Just note that they are all addons to existing equipment. Freebies for those who don’t have existing equipment.

  3. Front Row is not done right because it’s missing one very important feature that media center does have, a DVR function. If Apple can put in a video capture card along with DVR functions (like snapstream’s beyond TV) and a high quality TV out then it will be done right. Until then it’s just another Apple neat little feature that comes up just a bit short.

  4. for the “Mac Media Center”. I imagine a dongle that connects to firewire and DVI, with inputs for TV signal and outputs to TV and audio. Plug it into your Mac mini or G5, and connect your cable connection or satellite, and your TV & stereo, and run it as a substitute for TiVo and DVD player. Bluetooth keyboard & mouse, or remote control, makes it all easy, and you can pull up iTunes or iPhoto, or watch TV in real time or recorded, or watch DVD or listen to CD, or use as a regular computer with your TV screen as monitor.

    This is so obvious that I just know, somewhere in Cupertino, it is already up and running. So release it already!

  5. No one will substitute an imac for a TV……This is just the setup for the next media/mac style device….I liked the basic interface…add more TV menus and capability….. or develop a device that plugs into your media center like a DVD player does and works like an enhanced DVD recorder with an easy to use on screen display….just a thought

  6. Front Row looks awesome. It’s too bad Apple hit it off with such poor quality video. Opting to sell the video at 320×240 is really dumb–especially considering they’re advertising watching that stuff on a 20″ iMac. It looks like crap on my 17″ powerbook. I might have actually bought some episodes (or, *gasp*, an entire season of a show) if it didn’t look like total and utter crap on my screen. I’m not going to pay $2 for something that will only look good on a 2.5″ screen and not my powerbook at fullscreen. If Apple doesn’t rectify this, it really is going to be a flop. Most people don’t have iPods with video support yet, so their first experience of the video will be on their computer where it looks like crap in fullscreen. Doh!

  7. I am suprised how many people keep harping on hte lack of a TV tuner. Just a few months ago MS allowed the Dells and HPs of the world toload the Media Center edition on PCs without TV tuners. THe major media center builders kept saying the component costs were to high when the tuners was added and consumers were opting to just buy a standard PC.

    Now Apple comes out with an elegant execution on everything except the TV PVR thing and everyone is up in arms. Go figure.

    My guess is it is intentional. Why would i buy Lost of of hte iTVS if i can just record the darn thing for free? Its ommision was with a purpose.

    PS. the movie trailer viewer is genius.

  8. Greg says: “Front Row is not done right because it’s missing one very important feature that media center does have, a DVR function. If Apple can put in a video capture card along with DVR functions (like snapstream’s beyond TV) and a high quality TV out then it will be done right. Until then it’s just another Apple neat little feature that comes up just a bit short.”

    I’m still waiting for the “Mac Media Center” says: “I imagine a dongle that connects to firewire and DVI, with inputs for TV signal and outputs to TV and audio. Plug it into your Mac mini or G5, and connect your cable connection or satellite, … and run it as a substitute for TiVo and DVD player. … This is so obvious that I just know, somewhere in Cupertino, it is already up and running. So release it already!”

    I think we’re going to have to wait for hardware DRM/Macintels for that. I know it’s not necessary, and if the outcry for those features becomes great enough Apple might release those features sooner, but I think they’d be such a hit that it might undercut the big new product rollouts being planned.

    Nevertheless, I do think a DVR and TV tuner version of FrontRow is coming, but it might not be in the iMac form-factor (at least not this one). I always thought the old G4 iMac form-factor was just begging for TV/DVR functionality, what with that swiveling screen and all. Especially at the 20″ size, it was perfect for media viewing in small spaces (like a college dorm or most center city apartments).

    I read that Apple recently patented a removable screen version of the beloved ‘desklamp’ recently. Extrapolating, I suspect that could be the version we see an ‘uprated’ FrontRow on. But again – if the present iMacs start flying off the shelves, who knows what might happen in January.
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  9. I see this being good for college students. Not only do you get a kickass operating system, but you basically get a whole media center (sans a couple things) in a really sleek looking package. And considering most dormrooms that I have ever been in contain only a 13″ TV, even the 17″ model looks awesome!

  10. Add the El Gato Eye TV and it will have the DVR functionality. And, if they are really on top of it, the FrontRow software will integrate with El Gato’s. But, a TiVo is still cheaper than this and all of the MediaPC’s out there by at least $800.

    I think the Mac Mini is the form factor that the MacMediaCenter will come in. All they need is component outs and a TV in with some good DVR software and they’re done. Sell it for $600 and offer the TV listings with it and that will sell very well.

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