San Francisco (AFP) Sept 1, 2010
Apple unveiled a refreshed line of iPods on Wednesday and slashed the price of the Apple TV box that streams television shows and movies over the Web to high-definition TV sets.
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, speaking at an event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, also introduced "Ping," a music-oriented social network that allows iTunes users to share their music preferences.
Jobs, dressed in his trademark long-sleeved black shirt, blue jeans and tennis shoes, said the second-generation of the Apple TV device would cost 99 dollars, down from 229 dollars.
Apple released the first version of its digital media receiver that routes TV show and movies to HD TVs in 2007 but it never really caught on with the public.
"Apple TV hasn't been a big hit," Jobs acknowledged as he revealed the palm-sized low-priced model he hoped will change that situation.
"But, we've learned a lot," he added. "People want Hollywood movies and TV shows whenever they want them; they don't want amateur hour, they want professional content."
The device is plugged into television sets but also links wirelessly to Apple's hot-selling iPad tablet computers so people could start watching shows on one of the devices and then switch to the other when convenient.
"Apple TV is a big reset," said analyst Michael Gartenberg, a partner at Altimeter Group.
"This is to the TV what iPhone was to the phone. The way they taught consumers to use the phone they are now teaching them about the Apple way to use the TV set."
Jobs said Apple TV owners will be able to rent HD movies for 4.99 dollars and television shows from the Fox and ABC networks for 99 cents. US users can also stream content from movie rental service Netflix, he said.
"We think the rest of the studios will see the light and get on board with this pretty fast," Jobs said.
The new model Apple TV will be available in about four weeks.
Jobs also said he was rolling out the "strongest new lineup of iPods we've ever had.
"It's the biggest change in the iPod lineup ever," he said.
The new iPod Touch allows for video calling. It has front- and rear-facing cameras which let a user hold video chats with iPhone or other iPod Touch owners using Wi-Fi and an Apple program called "FaceTime."
Jobs also showed off a new iPod Shuffle for 49 dollars and a touchscreen version of the middle-range iPod Nano starting at 149 dollars.
The new iPod Touch costs 229 dollars for the eight-gigabyte model, 299 dollars for the 32GB model and 399 dollars for the 64GB version.
He said the new iPods would be available next week.
The Apple chief also previewed the latest version of online store iTunes, iTunes 10 and music-oriented social network Ping.
"It is sort of like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes," Jobs said, referring to the world's top online social networking and microblogging services.
"It is not Facebook. It is not Twitter. It is something else we've come up with. It's all about music," he said.
Ping will automatically be available to the more than 160 million iTunes members worldwide when they update to the new version, which Apple made available as a free download at itunes.com.
"Apple is now in the social networking game, but it is music centric which is really cool," Gartenberg said as he left the event.
"It is not about competing with Facebook or Twitter. This is about something they use in addition. When I want to hang with my music friends this is where I go."
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