Thursday, March 22, 2007

Apple moves into living room with TV set-top box

SAN FRANCISCO: Apple, maker of the iPod music and video player, released a television set-top box to challenge Microsoft and cable companies including Comcast to deliver digital movies and TV shows into consumers’ living rooms.

The $299-Apple TV device transmits images and music over a wireless connection to widescreen TVs, the Cupertino, California-based company said in a statement Wednesday. Apple had promised to ship it in mid-March after missing a February release date.

Chief executive officer Steve Jobs hailed the device as the “DVD player for the 21st Century” after unveiling it in January, using a remote control to transfer movies, TV shows and other content from Apple’s iTunes software. Apple aims to win consumers from digital entertainment systems created by Microsoft and Comcast, the world’s largest US cable operator.

“AppleTV is an ideal conduit for multiple services including digital video recording, paid-for-content, gaming or advertising,” Jonathan Hoopes, an analyst with ThinkEquity Partners in New York, said in a March 19 report. He rates Apple shares ‘buy’ and doesn’t own any. “Just as the iPod/iTunes combination has changed the way people consume music, we think Apple TV will become an iPod for the home it its own right.”

Apple TV sales may top $500 million this year and reach $1 billion in 2008, Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner said. The box has a 40-gigabyte hard drive for storing as much as 50 hours of video, up to 25,000 photos and as many as 9,000 songs. It includes a processor from Intel. Content can be transferred to widescreen TVs from Apple’s Macintosh personal computers and PCs running Microsoft’s Windows software.

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