How will Apple’s ‘iTV’ work?

“In a company first, Jobs introduced a product that isn’t immediately available—the iTV. Plus: a movie-download service and updated iPods. Apple Computer Chief Executive Steve Jobs made a few out-of-character moves as he unveiled a slate of new products on Sept. 12. For starters, he left the trademark black mock turtleneck at home, instead donning a black button-down. The real shocker, though, was Apple’s decision to tout a product months before it’s due to hit the market,” Arik Hesseldahl reports for BusinessWeek.

MacDailyNews Note: It’s not a “company first.” It happens all the time, in fact it even happened today with the new iPod shuffle due in October. It’s happened with Macs several times in the past and with upcoming Mac OS X versions every time. The reason Jobs pre-announced “iTV” so far in advance, in our opinion, was to freeze purchases of such things as Media Center PCs this holiday season. We think it’ll accomplish that task quite nicely.

Hesseldahl continues, “Apple made what can only be called a highly unusual move for a company that forbids employees from even speculating publicly about forthcoming products. Jobs unveiled the iTV, a product he’s hoping will bridge the chasm between those movie downloads and the TV set in the living room. Thing is, it won’t be available until early 2007. When released, it will sell for $299.”

“Where Apple is going—or hopes to go—is territory that rivals have so far failed to conquer. Apple says iTV is capable of moving music, movies, and other content from a computer to a television, or another entertainment device. This would be done using wireless technology—probably some variant of wireless fidelity, although Apple didn’t explain further,” Hesseldahl reports. “Microsoft has made attempts with its Media Center PCs in conjunction with Hewlett-Packard although the combination hasn’t truly succeeded in getting entertainment off the PC. Intel has also made noise about its own entertainment PC concept called VIIV (rhymes with “five”) but little has been heard about the initiative in recent months.”

“Apple seems to be betting that it can teach the motion picture studios the same lesson it taught the movie [sic] industry: Marry the device and the content in a harmonious ecosystem with a simple price structure, and consumers will flock,” Hesseldahl writes.

MacDailyNews Note: Ignore Hesseldahl’s Freudian slip. Substitute “music” and/or “TV shows” for “movie” in his sentence above.

Hesseldahl continues, “One important question left lingering about iTV was exactly how the device will work. Jobs said it will use some variant of wireless networking known as IEEE 802.11, and Apple already has some history with this technology. It was early to deliver Wi-Fi networking products under its Airport brand. But Jobs also said that the iTV will support HDTV video content. That implies the device will use a version of Wi-Fi that is faster and more advanced than the prevailing standard (802.11g), which tops out at data transmission speeds of 54 megabits per second (Mbps).”

“The next iteration of that technology, 802.11n, will boost the data speed to above 200 Mbps, and perhaps as high as 540 Mbps. That would be fast enough to support a high-definition stream, but it isn’t expected to be approved until 2008,” Hesseldahl writes. “Meanwhile, companies such as Netgear, Linksys, and D-Link have been pressing ahead selling gear that is based on competing iterations of early versions of the standard. For Apple, pressing ahead with Wi-Fi technology before it becomes a ratified standard is nothing new—the Airport Extreme line of products used 802.11g before that standard was ratified.”

Full article here.

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

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Analyst: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV model ‘the gold standard for the digital home of the future’ – September 12, 2006
The Motley Fool’s Lomax: Apple news ‘mostly underwhelming, with some potential future bright spots’ – September 12, 2006
Analyst: Apple ‘s iTunes+iPod+iTV ‘will be hard for other players to match’ – September 12, 2006
Apple gives sneak peek of ‘iTV’ set-top box to debut Q1 2007 (with images) – September 12, 2006
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Apple unveils new iPod shuffle: world’s smallest digital music player – September 12, 2006
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58 Comments

  1. The announcement of this device was a message to the other movie companies– that there is a market for their content to grow into. It also sets up a possibility for a subscription service, as the iTV streams off of the internet, as well as from a hard drive in your vicinity. This sort of announcement, though, is exactly the sort of things people say they want from Apple, but when it happens, they get uncomfortable. Too funny.

  2. Dare I say…Microsoftian? (i.e. Don’t get too excited about those other guys–we’ve got something better coming up, even if it’s vaporware for now.) You can get away with that kind of crap when you’re the big name in your field (digital media downloads in this case).

  3. The way Apple intends to achieve the feat of bandwidth is by duplicating the parallel processing concept with parallel broadcasting. The device will have shared 802.11g cards moving the split data until 802.11n cards are is released.

    You heard it here first

  4. ok here is something noone is talking about but has got me enthusiastic … did anyone notice that on the streaming video of the announcement that you could pause, play, pause, play, fast forward, play, pause, rewind, play, fast forward, play, pause, play and quicktime wouldn’t miss a beat? try that on quicktime 6 or M$ mediocre player and see what happens? I guarentee you won’t get the same results. I am excited! Thank you Steve and all the hard working people at Apple Computer. You guys rock. nuf sed.

  5. Well, the iTV sounds pretty compelling. And why NOT pre-announce it? All eyes are on Apple these days to lead multiple industries. And lacking full-blown product releases, why not let the industry, investors and consumers just an inkling of what Apple (and Steve Jobs) have in mind in the near future?

    The iTV is really a natural extension of what we all already own… a Macintosh. The fact that it has he same footprint as a Mac mini is telling. Stack it under a new Core Duo Mac mini and atop an external Firewire hard drive (with the same footprint) and you’ve got a compact and powerful media center. You could easily hide a Mac mini and the external drives and discreetly run everything via an iTV. Tres cool!

    Let’s hope that Apple has the foresight to include 802.11n or pre-n Airport capabilities. The whole setup shines even brighter.

    I’ve got a Netgear wireless router that uses pre-n and it’s quite nice. The signal is considerably stronger than the standard ‘g’ router and can move files faster, too. This is just what’s needed for A/V streaming. It wouldn’t be bad to do some everyday computing on a spankin’ new 1080p monitor with a setup like that… all with Bluetooth keyboard, mouse and WACOM tablet!

    I was hoping that Apple would announce updated 1080p/iSight monitors, but they will come at a later date.

    I bet the iTV is released alongside the real iPod AV… a BIG one-two punch!

    Gates and Company must be quaking a little harder tonight. Chairs are flying in Redmond! Maybe even a sofa or two…

  6. iTV is not much more than what one can already do today with an iMAC mini and a flatscreen. I have enjoyed all the things he’s shown for months already. iTV will just be the next release of the mac mini.

  7. doPi said:

    The way Apple intends to achieve the feat of bandwidth is by duplicating the parallel processing concept with parallel broadcasting. The device will have shared 802.11g cards moving the split data until 802.11n cards are is released

    ==

    Doh. The two 802.11g cards would then have to share the 54 Mbps throughput from the router. Two cards running half the speed.

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