- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 12, 2005

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Apple Computer Inc. yesterday introduced an IPod capable of playing videos, turning the portable music player of choice into a multimedia platform for TV shows and music videos.

Videos now will be sold online alongside songs on Apple’s ITunes Music Store.

Citing a groundbreaking deal with ABC Television Group, Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs said the online ITunes store will sell episodes of the hit shows “Desperate Housewives” and “Lost” for $1.99 each, making them available the day after they air on television for viewing on the new IPod’s 2-inch color screen.

Analysts consider Apple’s much-anticipated introduction of a video IPod a test of whether consumers would embrace video on such a small screen. Over-the-air TV services already are available for cell phones, but the quality remains substandard.

“It’s never been done before, where you could buy hit TV shows and buy them online the day after they’re shown,” said Mr. Jobs, whose other company, Pixar Animation Studios Inc., has a long relationship with ABC’s parent, the Walt Disney Co.

Competing portable video players have been available for several years but very little compelling content has been available, and Apple’s move comes amid fledgling initiatives to offer original video programming on the Internet.

“This is the first giant step to making more content available to more people online,” said Robert Iger, Disney’s chief executive. “It is the future as far as I’m concerned. It’s a great marriage between content and technology, and I’m thrilled about it.”

The new video IPod, available in black or white, will be able to play video and podcasts. A 30-gigabyte version will sell for $299 and a 60-gigabyte for $399. Extra features on both versions include a clock, a calendar that Mr. Jobs said never looked better, a stopwatch and a screen lock.

“It’s really very beautiful and very thin,” Mr. Jobs told assembled journalists and guests.

The video IPod will lock TV shows and music videos downloaded from the ITunes store with copy-protection software, just as Apple does for music. But it also will support the MPEG-4 video standard, meaning users could view home movies and other unencrypted videos on it.

Apple has been riding high on the success of its IPods, which helped quadruple the company’s profits last quarter.

In the last fiscal quarter, the IPod accounted for nearly a third of Apple’s revenue; Macintosh computers, Apple’s historical core product, accounted for about 44 percent with 1.2 million units sold.

Apple yesterday also introduced newer, thinner models of the all-in-one IMac desktop computer.

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