CEO Jobs unveils long-awaited Apple TV
By RACHEL KONRAD
AP Technology Writer
The Associated Press
Apple Computer CEO Steve Jobs (News - Alert) unveiled a set-top box Tuesday that allows people to stream video from their computers to their televisions.
Apple TV, as the company's latest product is known, is designed to bridge computers and television sets so users can more easily watch their downloaded movies on a big screen. A prototype of the gadget was introduced by Jobs in September when Apple announced it would sell TV shows and movies through its iTunes Music Store.
The product could be as revolutionary to digital movies as Apple's iPod music player was to digital music. Both devices liberate media from the computer, allowing people to enjoy digital files without being chained to a desktop or laptop.
Jobs unveiled the $299 Apple TV during his annual keynote at the Macworld Conference & Expo.
"It's really, really easy to use," Jobs told the crowd at San Francisco's Moscone Center before demonstrating the system with a video clip of "The Good Shepherd." "It's got the processing horsepower to do the kinds of things we like to do."
He also said Apple has sold more than 2 billion songs on its popular iTunes music download site, catapulting the company into the top ranks of music sellers worldwide.
Apple, which sells 58 songs per second, or 5 million songs a day, sells more songs than Amazon.com (News - Alert). It ranks behind Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target as a music retailer.
"We couldn't be happier with the growth rate of iTunes," Jobs said.
Jobs also announced that Apple will sell digital movies from Paramount. Apple has partnered with Disney for several months, offering about 100 movies on iTunes. With Paramount's selection, it will have 250 movies available for downloading on the site.
Industry experts expected Jobs to unveil at least one new product during the two-hour address. Besides the TV box, speculation has centered on a cell phone capable of downloading and playing music.
But it remains to be seen whether the king of digital music can colonize an entirely new category of gadgets. Apple could use a megahit along the lines of its iconic iPod to divert investors' attention from the stock options-backdating scandal that has tainted its reputation.
The backdating of stock options, which has been widespread among Silicon Valley companies, involves pegging stock options to favorable grant dates in the past to boost the recipients' award. It isn't necessarily illegal, but securities laws require companies to properly disclose the practice in their accounting and settle any charges that may result.
In a December filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple said Jobs was aware of, or recommended the selection of, some favorable grant dates but he neither benefited financially from them nor "appreciated the accounting implications."
Apple shares were up 50 cents, to $85.97 in midday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $50.16 to $93.16,
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