Apple TV Reborn at $99
At yesterday's Apple bash, Steve Jobs listed his goals for the second-gen Apple TV: "So what have we learned from our users? They want Hollywood movies and TV shows whenever they want. It's not complicated. They don't want amateur hour. They want HD--everyone wants HD. They want to pay lower prices for content. They don't want a computer on their TV--they have computers. They go to their TVs for entertainment."
The new box is palm-size and black with HDMI, USB, Toslink, and ethernet connections. HD-friendly wireless connectivity is wifi 802.11n. The remote is reminiscent of an old iPod. The box streams rentals--it stores and purchases nothing. Movies will cost $4.99 and ad-free TV shows 99 cents, with (so far) ABC and Fox onboard. There's a one-click interface, and no monthly fee. Fringe benefits: Netflix (monthly fee required), YouTube, flickr, mobileme, your own photos, Rotten Tomatoes reviews. Oh, and you can push videos from iPad to Apple TV (and thus to your TV).
James McQuivey, analyst for Forrester Research, suggests that Apple TV is not really the focus of Apple's TV strategy: "The most important hint of Apple's real ambitions in the living room come from AirPlay, which puts iPhones and iPads in the driver's seat and makes the TV just an output device for the Apple ecosystem." Others say Apple's real video strategy will come with a future Apple HDTV set.
Several other Apple announcements at the same event included a radical overhaul of the iPod line, with the touch getting slimmer and acquiring dual cameras, the nano becoming a smaller version of the touch, the shuffle getting even tinier, and the classic deafeningly unmentioned though still available on the Apple site at presstime. iTunes 10 has a Ping social networking feature. Note that the iTunes logo has lost its CD background, a symbolic move as downloads are poised to outpace CD sales.
The live coverage from Engadget was exemplary. Our compliments to correspondent Joshua Topolsky.