October 12, 2005 10:12 AM PDT
Apple unveils video iPod, new iMac
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great opportunity for consumers to stay connected to their favorite programs."
Six short films from Pixar Animation Studios also will be available for $1.99 each.
Apple last week sent invitations that included the words "One more thing..." Wednesday's announcements took place at the California Theatre, where Apple introduced the U2 iPod and the first color-screen iPod Photo last year.
The video iPod arrives just one month after Apple unveiled its pencil-thin iPod Nano. Company executives said Tuesday that demand for the Nano is strongly outstripping Apple's ability to supply the flash-memory-based music players.
Still a music machine
While highlighting the new iPod's video features, Jobs appeared careful to stress several times that it was still fundamentally a music-playing device, with video features added as a "bonus."
The careful language may have been aimed at avoiding a repeat of the introduction of the Photo edition of the iPod, which was not initially a top seller despite the addition of the color screen and photo features.
However, Jobs did show a new iPod ad, focused wholly on the new video features, with the tagline "Watch your music."
Sam Bhavnani, an analyst at Current Analysis, noted that the appeal of video is more limited than music. "You can't use it when running. You can't use it while working. You can't use it while driving," he said. However, downloading a TV show to use on an airplane flight, for example, will appeal to some consumers.
Apple "did a small step," Bhavnani said. "It doesn't take Einstein to know the next step is more shows. Maybe ultimately you get to where the next 'Toy Story' is going to be downloaded through iTunes."
Apple's video device isn't the first to hit the market. Studios currently market a handheld computer in Japan called the Type U that can be used to watch videos. Consumers can also watch movies (with a tiny Universal Media Disc) on the PlayStation Portable.
Intel and Microsoft designed a portable media player in 2002 that some manufacturers brought to market last year. (First it was known as Media2Go and later as the Portable Media Center.) In addition, Samsung and others have released phones that can receive TV signals, thereby allowing commuters to watch shows on their cell phones.
So far, though, portable video hasn't been a big seller. The screens on these devices are far smaller than those on TVs. Video also can sap battery life. Watching TV over cellular signals, some Korean consumers have found out, can rack up high bills. (New versions of the cell-phone televisions use a TV tuner card, rather than deliver TV over the cellular network.)
Sony executives, though, recently said sales of Universal Media Disc movies for the PSP are a little better than expected.
CNET News.com's Michael Kanellos contributed to this report.
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