i-openers from new Apple Inc.
EmptyWith a telephone and a tele-vision set-top box coming soon, it's a full-fledged consumer electronics company. Hence, from this day forward, Apple Computer has officially renamed itself Apple Inc.
The revelation came Tuesday from CEO Steve Jobs at the annual Macworld Conference & Expo in San Francisco, where he unveiled the long-rumored iPhone and showed off the latest model of iTV, which the company has renamed Apple TV.
The former, of course, is Apple's way of marrying its fabulously popular iPod music player with a cell phone, while the latter serves as a set-top box for enjoying iTunes content on televisions sets, as opposed to on computer monitors or tiny iPod screens. That also positions Apple as a competitor, in some respects, to cable and satellite TV operators.
Apple also said Tuesday that it has struck a deal with Paramount Pictures, which will initially offer 100 movies for sale at iTunes, including films from Paramount Classics, MTV Films and Nickelodeon Movies. Films from Paramount Vantage will be added this year, and Paramount Digital Entertainment president Thomas Lesinski said he expects 200 Paramount titles to be available at iTunes by year's end.
Previously, Apple's iTunes digital content store offered only movies from the Walt Disney Co., where Jobs is a board member and No. 1 individual shareholder. With the addition of Paramount, iTunes will offer about 250 film titles.
Paramount titles initially available at iTunes include "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "School of Rock," "Mean Girls," "Chinatown" and the first six movies in the "Star Trek" franchise.
Digitizing titles and clearing legal rights for their digital distribution is a time-consuming task, Lesinski said. "But ultimately we'll offer as many titles as we can."
The arrangement is for catalog titles only, he said, with the most recent film being "Coach Carter," released theatrically a year ago. Paramount also sells movies digitally through such services as Movielink, CinemaNow and Amazon's Unbox.
Jobs also said that more than 2 billion songs have been sold on iTunes since its launch nearly four years ago, along with 50 million TV episodes and 1.3 million feature films.
As for Apple TV, it's a sleek, $299 box that wirelessly moves content stored on a computer — in particular songs and video content, including movies purchased at iTunes but also photos and such — to most new widescreen television sets. Consumers can also play on-demand movie trailers from Apple.com on their television screens using Apple TV.
What the Apple TV won't do is mimic a DVR like TiVo. Many Apple watchers and Wall Street observers had speculated on Apple getting into the DVR market, but it has so far shunned such a move.
Available starting next month, the Apple TV has enough storage capacity for 50 hours of video or about 9,000 songs or 25,000 still photos, and it can stream content wirelessly from as many as five computers in a household.
Investors cheered the announcements Tuesday, driving shares of Apple 8.3% higher to $92.57, making it the top gainer on The Hollywood Reporter's Showbiz 50 stock index. Shares of the companies that suddenly find themselves competing with Apple's new iPhone, meanwhile, were hammered. Shares of Research in Motion and Palm Inc., for example, were off 7.9% and 5.7%, respectively.
For iPhone, Apple has chosen AT&T's Cingular Wireless as its exclusive partner for an undisclosed amount of time. The iPhone is due in the U.S. in June for $499. A $599 model buys more memory.
The iPhone has a 3.5-inch-wide touchscreen display, runs on Apple's OS X operating system, includes a 2 megapixel camera and the Safari Internet browser. And, of course, it will play music and video from iTunes.