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Monday, December 12, 2005

`Apple's Next Move": Linking the iPod with the TV

Adam Penenberg has a piece in Slate today that argues that Apple could get pushed off the digital video playing field by cable companies, satellite companies, other tech players (including Microsoft), and presumably telcos...if it doesn't figure out how to link the iPod with the television. He writes:

    While the iPod has given Apple a foothold in cars and offices, it has yet to make the move into living rooms. The cable companies have a clear advantage here, as does Microsoft with its Media Center PCs and the enormously popular Xbox. Apple will become a force here on the day you can plug your iPod into your television—not to mention your car stereo and broadband network. If Steve Jobs can make the iPod an entertainment hub, Apple will be the company to beat, a feat it could never accomplish with personal computers.

    But that's a big if. Apple's attempt to cram the functionality of the iPod into a phone has been a failure, namely because you have to hook it up to your PC to download music. Music and video that sound and look fine on an iPod also isn't necessarily up to snuff on high-end stereos and big-screen TVs, especially as consumers slowly embrace high-definition television. While it takes only a minute or two to download a song from iTunes, it can take hours to download video that looks good on a big screen. That gives set-top boxes a distinct advantage.

    The longer the iPod stays anchored to the personal computer, the further behind Apple will fall.

The world will be watching Macworld 2006 next month for an announcement along these lines.