Apple changes core business from computer to mobile and TV

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Apple Computer drops the Computer from its name as it introduces new mobile iPhone, Apple TV and a partnership with AT&T's Cingular Wireless, at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas this week.

The Cupertino, CA-based software giant, known for revolutionizing music consumption with the invention of its iPod MP3 player and Apple iTunes, will now be able to market itself to Cingular's 58.7 million customers.

"Because this is a true wireless technology with a phone, an Internet browsing device and an iTunes player more consumers are going to buy it, and that means more revenue and more subscribers," said Mark Siegel, spokesman for Cingular Wireless, Atlanta. "It's too soon to tell what this potential means for advertisers, but we'll be making announcements about news like service plans later this year."

The iPhone device is a combination of three products-a mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and an Internet communications device with desktop e-mail, Web browsing, searching and maps. It introduces new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and new software, letting users control iPhone with touch. IPhone also includes a 2 megapixel camera and a photo management application that can be synced on a PC or Mac.

Also interestingly, iPhone includes the introduction of Visual Voicemail, a product co-developed by Apple and Cingular; it lets users to go directly to any voice messages without listening to any of the prior messages, like in e-mail.

iPhone will be available in the United States beginning in June in a 4GB model for $499 and an 8GB model for $599, and it will work in combination with Apple's iTunes running on either a PC or Mac. iPhone will be sold in the United States through Apple's retail and online stores, and through Cingular's retail and online stores.

Think the telephone is big. Enter Apple TV, the marriage of Internet content with the home entertainment system. Apple TV lets users view iTunes content -- movies, TV shows, music, photos and podcasts -- from a computer on a widescreen TV. It connects it to an entertainment system just like a DVD player, but plays digital content from the Internet rather than DVDs. Watch part of a movie on a TV set, and watch the rest later on an iPod.

Despite the potential, content is somewhat limited. Even though Apple TV and iTunes are integrated, iTunes video content is currently limited to 250 feature-length movies and 350 TV shows and 5,000 music videos, not in league with the 70,000 titles on Netflix and the uncountable music videos on YouTube despite its new console.

The TV platform has a 40GB hard drive that can store 50 hours of video, 9,000 songs, 25,000 photos or a combination of each. Apple TV can also auto-sync content wirelessly from one computer or stream content from up to five additional computers to the TV. And couch potatoes can rest easy. Users can browse and view an iPod collection of digital media from 30 feet away using the Apple Remote.

Coming this February for $299.

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