Apple TV Reborn And Ready To Kick Ass!

On wednesday, Apple Computer and CEO Steve Jobs showed off their new iPods including the new iPod Touch with a camera and a front-facing camera. After that they showed the world the new version of APPLE TV and set the world on its ear.
apple tv iTunes iPad iPod iPhone rentals appletv
The big points of the new Apple TV is that is only $99 (about half what the original version sold for) and it was now a quarter of the size. it boasts a simple design of a built-in power supply, HDMI, optical audio, Ethernet and Wi-Fi all in form you can hold in the palm of your hand.

First that is obvious from this form-factor to me: no hard drive, little or no storage and it’s all about streaming. This 100 percent streaming model is supported by computers running iTunes or by iOS devices (iPhones, iPods or iPads) which can use the newly announced “AirPlay” technology (part of the iOS 4.2 update coming later in the year) to do things like start watching a film on your iPad and finish it seamlessly on your Apple TV.

Yes, the days of syncing are over for this device, it’s a rental kind of world for the new Apple TV. HD First-Run films can be rented for $4.99 (somewhat less then most on-demand rentals I see) and the big announcement was the much rumored 99 cent rentals of TV shows.

Great news followed by the not so great news that the only networks on-board with this are ABC and FOX. Jobs seemed unfazed by this and made the comment “We think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board pretty fast…”

In an interested note on this, Amazon did a little price change work on their Video On Demand service and now offers 99 cent purchases of shows from ABC and FOX (including GLEE, BONES and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES) but they also offer shows from the BBC (DR WHO season 5).” The Amazon VOD service is a streaming technology that is compatible with Mac or PC and various set-top boxes, but (in an obvious strike) videos can only be downloaded to a Windows based computers and “cannot be transferred to iPods.”

This is phenomenal news for the consumers. I’m hoping that in the next few days others will take Amazon’s lead and step up with price drops and more options for customers.

We covered the stupidity of paying for Hulu Plus when you could watch about 90 percent of the shows available on it for free through Hulu.com when in both cases you have to sit through commercials. Will Hulu get a kick to the head by this and start offering a better service?

Well, they better because the new Apple TV also offers access to Netflix streaming. Yeah, take that Hulu and Roku. You’ll still get access to YouTube videos, and photos from Flickr as well as being able to stream straight from your Mac or PC.

The new Apple TV will be available around the end of September but pre-orders are being taken now.

I’m sure there are a lot of people at Google looking over this announcement and looking at the response to it and calculating changes to the Google TV offering coming later in the year but I don’t think they stand much of a chance against the Apple advertising and marketing juggernaut unless they can pull some major coup with exclusive content and the way the networks are running scared that’s not likely.

Why am I so big on this? Because it will spur the competitors.  Already Amazon has dropped prices on their TV shows (although they don’t want you to be able to watch them the way you want to yet but maybe that will change too) and hopefully this will make Google TV an even more exciting offering when it materializes. Roku and Boxie have already responded with statements and hopefully they’ll follow that up with more options and offers.

The entertainment industries need to realize that people want to watch their shows and films and content when, where and how they want to watch them on whatever device or devices they choose. Apple will make the average person realize they have options and hopefully create the compitition to give us the options and pricing we deserve.

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