Apple eyes living room market with device codenamed ‘iTV’

“Steven P. Jobs, Apple Computer’s chief executive, concluded a company event on Tuesday morning with his usual tease, noting that he had ‘one last thing’ to introduce,” John Markoff writes for The New York Times.

Markoff writes, “Then, in an unusual departure from the company’s practice of announcing new products only when they are ready to ship, he talked about a product due out early next year that will be the company’s first step into the living room. The device, which Apple is calling iTV for now, will wirelessly stream video and music from a Macintosh computer or from the Internet to a television. The $299 box is about the size of a slim paperback novel.”

MacDailyNews Take: Correction: “iTV” will wirelessly stream media from any Mac or PC running iTunes to any TV, monitor or device connected to it. People haven’t fully grasped the implications of “iTV,” yet. We’ll give them some time to catch up.

“The iTV device places Apple squarely in the consumer electronics market and gives it a way to compete directly with Microsoft and PC industry giants like Dell and Hewlett-Packard, which are also eagerly eyeing ways to deliver entertainment beyond the PC screen. Apple is a late entrant to the living room market, which is already crowded with video players like the Xbox and PlayStation and Microsoft-based Media Center personal computers, along with extenders of every shape and function,” Markoff writes. “That appeared not to faze Mr. Jobs, who showed off a simple interface for playing video and music on a TV, patterned on the company’s Front Row software.”

“The new streaming device partially sheltered Mr. Jobs from criticism that he had failed to line up Hollywood movie studios in the same way that he won the backing of the music industry when he originally launched the iTunes store. Mr. Jobs suggested that other studios would join the movie service in the future,” Markoff writes.

Full article here.
Apple launched TV shows via their iTunes Store with just one network, Disney’s ABC. Take a look at how many other networks, cable outlets, and TV shows there are now, less than a year later: 220 shows and 40 networks. Hollywood studios can hear money talking better than most anyone else; they’ll come a-runnin’ soon enough.

Steve Jobs gives sneak peek of Apple’s “iTV” wireless set-top box:

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39 Comments

  1. The brilliance of the iTV model is that it’s vastly more scalable than the Windows Media PC model.

    HDTVs are quickly replacing regular TVs these days. In a few years, the majority of American households will have at least one HDTV, and many will most likely have 2 or 3.

    With the Windows MPC model, you would need a Windows box to drive each of those HDTVs. Imagine the subscription costs for just the anti-virus software for 3 machines. That kind of headache is just for starts.

    With Apple’s model, you buy a single Mac. With the power of dual-core processors (and next year, quad core CPUs), a single Mac could drive 2, 3 or 4 iTVs throughout the house, simultaneously.

    Apple, like it did with the original iPod, will also come out with specialized high-end iTVs for audio-video connoisseurs and low-end iTVs for people who have old school tube TVs. Replacing an iTV will be no more difficult than replacing an old DVD player with a new one that has HDMI outputs and upconvert capability today.

    I’ve said it in post for other articles today, but Apple just killed the Windows MPC today.

  2. “I’ve said it in post for other articles today, but Apple just killed the Windows MPC today.”

    Yeah they did. Basically they just looked at the big picture and said, um, no the PC isnt going to be the TV, it’s going to feed the TV and we are going to show the world how to do it. Microshaft has been sitting there for a year or so waiting to see what Apple was going to do to match the MPC, and basically Apple just sidestepped it and trumped them.

    You could see this coming with Front Row, as that will be the new operating system for the tv. The user interface of the future for tv. Who better than Apple to do it.

    Time for the rest of the industry to follow the leader again.

  3. Markoff says, iTV “will wirelessly stream video and music from a Macintosh computer”.

    Unless I misheard the nattily dressed Mr. Jobs, he said it will stream content from any computer with iTunes.

    Someone should correct Mr. Markoff–I don’t see an email address with the article.

  4. but Media PCs cost more than Macs cost – which is quite a lot.

    so…

    a media center PC is $2000
    and xBox 360 is $400 (and is NOT digital)
    and all of this is Windows Only – does not work with iTunes Store or the iPod

    vs.

    your current computer – $0
    an iTV – $300
    and all of this is cross platform and DOES with the iTunes Store and the iPod

    seems simple math to me.

  5. Scalability: What wireless standard it uses will dictate whether the iTV will be able to stream multiple videos thru the home; most likely neccessitating a complete wireless network upgrade.

  6. oh, but lets not forget that the studios have Amazon Unbox…

    i guess we’ll be seeing them show up on iTunes Store soon enough.

    I mean – the alternative is that you sell people movies for more, and then, the movies don’t work, and you don’t get any refunds. That sounds way better than iTunes Store.

  7. Does anyone know when 802.11n will be final? Maybe this is why the product is delayed. It may already be using 802.11n beta, and could not ship until 802.11n is final, so that manufacturers of other wireless products were on board.

  8. The only question I have is how to get stuff to watch onto it? It streams from any computer in the house, but what about live TV? What about DVD’s? Do I have to go put the DVD in my computer and then go sit on the couch? It’s coming together, but this doesn’t quite reach the feature set of a Media Center PC. When will I be able to record TV shows from the cable?

    Having said all those questions, I do think that it is great that someone is challenging the cable TV driven model of watching TV. Depending on how much TV you watch, it is now economically viable to not buy cable, yet download and watch everything you wanted to anyway. I think that is great.

  9. It is pretty much a given that iTV will use 802.11n, which will have a bandwidth of at least 100 Mbps compared to 54 Mbps for the current 802.11g standard.

    An HDTV signal requires about 19 Mbps in bandwidth so 802.11n should have plenty of capacity to handle multiple streams, especially since the final standard might go as high as 200 Mbps.

    But what about current Macs that all ship with 802.11g?

    Well, iTMS movies are only 640×480 resolution and compressed using the highly efficient h.264, so most likely, it will require much less than 19 Mbsp per video stream.

    A standard definition TV broadcast with MPEG-2 compressions will require 3-5 Mbps so streaming a movie bought on iTMS will nowhere approach 19 Mbps. Again, even 802.11g will have plenty of capacity to handle 2, if not 3 streams.

    In other words, bandwidth should not really be a problem, especially after Apple standardizes on 802.11n.

  10. “Do I have to go put the DVD in my computer and then go sit on the couch?”

    I think, as nearly 100% of U.S. households have a standalone DVD player, if you want to watch a DVD, you will use your player and not your computer.

    iTV can hook to the inputs in your DVD player. The DVD outputs to the TV.

  11. Quevar Said:

    “It streams from any computer in the house, but what about live TV? What about DVD’s? Do I have to go put the DVD in my computer and then go sit on the couch? It’s coming together, but this doesn’t quite reach the feature set of a Media Center PC. When will I be able to record TV shows from the cable?”

    I think as far as Steve is concerned, live TV is a thing of the past. Why one bother to have physical DVDs, or to pay a monthly fee when you can get exactly what you want, when you want it, and have it alread “pre-recorded” for you, without any advertisements.

    I Much prefer the iTunes/iTV model to having a shelf full of overpriced DVDs, or a cluttered TV remote that forces me to sift through endless piles of crap and ads that I definitely don’t want.

  12. A media center pc can be had for less than a mac mini. Most home pc computers ship with mce instead of xp home now anyways.

    xbox 360 is $299 and does have digital capabilities. (not sure where that came from)

  13. I think it would be very nice if the iTV was a DVR and DVD (or Blu-ray or HD DVD) player in addition to being what it is, but I think it still serves a VERY useful purpose. as time goes on I think we will see the two features above integrated, possibly in a higher-end model. I think that the most exiting idea is being able to decide to buy a movie, turn on the TV, buy it (it looked to me like you could buy movies through the iTV but I could be mistaken), and start watching it in less than a minute. all I need now is a jet-pack and a robot maid.

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