Apple Computer has announced plans to offer a home entertainment device which will play movies, TV programmes and other video content purchased via the internet. The device—Apple founder Steve Jobs has temporarily named it iTV—is due to be launched in the US early in 2007 with a $299 price tag. Jobs unveiled plans for the iTV set-top as he announced movie licensing deals with Disney and a new look for Apple's hit music player, the iPod.
Jobs said consumer acceptance of downloading music online would soon transfer to the home movie market, eventually replacing DVDs—though he conceded that the transition would not happen overnight. US analysts said the iTV move was an attempt to take over the living room, and thereby join the battle that several consumer electronics manufacturers as well as Microsoft with its Media Centre are currently engaged in.
The small, square iTV set-top will be connected to TV sets and receive video and movie files stored on PCs or Macs wirelessly via a Wi-Fi connection within the home. Apple's iTunes Music Store will offer a richer choice of video and movie content, with typical movies taking 30 minutes to download via broadband.
Disney—Jobs sits on the media giant's board after its acquisition of animation studio Pixar—is making 75 movies available for download via iTunes. Significantly, Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, will be released on the same that DVDs of the titles go on sale in November.
Apple's movie download service will compete with a string of rival offerings from US players, among them Amazon's Unbox video download service.
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