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Reports: Apple Toying With Streaming

9 Jul, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Apple is reportedly considering offering content streams, including 99-cent episodic television programming, as it readies a rebooted (less-expensive) Apple TV with a fraction of the memory capacity of its predecessor.

Citing sources familiar with the project (and not a prototype left in a local bar), NewTeeVee.com reported the 99-cent rental would supplement existing $1.99 download pricing ($2.99 for high-def) with a caveat users would be afforded a 24-hour window to watch a started program.

With online viewing of video entertainment continuing to soar via YouTube, Netflix and Hulu, among other services, Apple has steadfastly supported technology that mandates users download content prior to watching it. This strategy requires immense hard drive capacity, and thus the original AppleTV had 160GB of storage compared to 16GB for the proposed $99 reboot.

Speculation about streaming surfaced earlier this year when it was reported that the new AppleTV would employ the same iOS operating system found on the iPhone and iPad.

However, with telecommunication carriers and some cable operators implementing monthly data plan limits, downloads may still be a better option than streaming — even to consumers wanting to watch a lot of video content via the Internet. In addition, Apple CEO Steve Job has shown little interest in streaming over the years, including recently referring to AppleTV as a “hobby.”

Independent analyst Phil Leigh said he expects Apple to package streaming with a revised iTunes offering music streams, in addition to downloads.

“The fundamental way to rejuvenate AppleTV would be with a new device,” Leigh said, adding the device would expand — not curtail — Internet access via apps or browser.

Leigh said expanded availability of content apps would guarantee continued revenue streams. At the same time, the analyst said studios and TV networks “vastly” overestimate their monopoly on entertainment.

“Once consumers get unlimited Internet access on their TV, they are going to find lots of other things (i.e. YouTube) to watch than what Hollywood and cable operators provide,” Leigh said.

An Apple representative was not immediately available for comment.

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