Apple TV: A New Channel for Movies
Apple TV got a revamp, too, as Apple is releasing a second attempt at a media gateway that doesn't require a computer; it downloads rentals directly to a widescreen TV (and can still transfer them to a computer, of course).
The whole package is an attempt to up-end the movie rental business much the way iTunes did for music sales. It's also an example of yet another company providing premium content over broadband connections -- and cutting the service provider out of the equation.
Jobs made the announcements in his Macworld keynote, the equivalent of Christmas Day for the Apple faithful. (And it comes with the same level of anticipation, too!)
Coming on stage without introduction -- because come on, everyone here knows him -- Jobs warmed up the audience with news about new iPhone applications and personal computer features. His talk kicked into gear, though, when he got to the subject of movie rentals on iTunes.
Contrary to early reports, Apple cut deals with every major studio, not just a few. Release dates were reported to be a sticking point; Apple struck a deal where it gets to offer movies 30 days after their DVD release date. New movies will rent for $3.99, older titles for $2.99 -- with each price increased by $1 for high-definition rentals.
The iTunes movie store opens today and will have 1,000 movies by the end of February, Jobs said.
The announcement ties into a revamp for Apple TV.
Jobs freely admitted that the original Apple TV missed the mark. "Apple TV was designed to be an accessory for iTunes and your computer. It's not what people wanted. We learned that what people really wanted was about movies, movies, movies."
iPhone, of course
The iPhone software developer kit (SDK) won't be coming until February, but Apple wanted to have some iPhone thrills for today anyway. So, some new applications have come out.
One of the more complex is a mapping feature. Without GPS, the iPhone can determine your location, by triangulating from surrounding WiFi hotspots and cell towers. Location data is provided by Skyhook Wireless Inc. and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG).
Finally, all the movie-biz glitz hasn't torn Apple from its personal computer roots. Jobs's talk culminated with the launch of the Macbook Air, which Apple claims is the world's thinnest notebook computer.
All Macbook Airs ship with 802.11n: "The Macbook Air was built to be a wireless machine," Jobs said. True to that statement, the computers don't have a CD/DVD drive; software upgrades will be downloaded wirelessly from designated computers via a nearly peer-to-peer feature called Remote Disc.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading