STEVEN P. Jobs, Apple Computer's chief executive, on Tuesday announced the company would launch a new device to wirelessly stream movies from a computer to a television set.
The device, which Apple is calling iTV for now, is due out early next year and will be the company's first step into the living room. It will plug into a television and wirelessly pull in video and music from a Macintosh computer in the den or from the Internet. The box, which will cost $299, is about the size of a slim paperback novel.
Apple also added movies to its iTunes online store where it already sells TV shows for download. It will initially offer 75 movies for download from four studios, all owned by the Walt Disney Co., on whose board Jobs sits. He is also its largest individual shareholder. New movies will cost $14.99, or $12.99 if pre-ordered or bought within the first week of release; older movies will cost $9.99.
Apple plans to introduce its fifth generation of hard disk-based iPod music players priced from $249 to $349, as well as a new suite of colourful iPod Nano players that have more storage capacity and a 24-hour battery life, priced from $149 to $249. It also introduced an ultrasmall version of the iPod Shuffle for $79 that clips onto clothing.
Jobs noted that Apple was already in the den with the Macintosh and in the consumer's pocket and car with the iPod, and was now poised to enter the living room. He said wireless streaming of digital entertainment was the missing piece of the puzzle.
"He did what he needed to do," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director for Jupiter Research. "It puts him way ahead of everyone else" in the effort to extend the PC to the living room.
Apple's new movies are delivered in a higher-resolution format than the television shows it now sells on iTunes. Jobs went to great lengths to explain how the new movies and newly added TV content will offer a substantial increase in visual clarity.