With the threat of Google TV looming, Apple seems to have finally remembered that it’s already got its own TV device on the shelves. A long-rumored upgrade, the new AppleTV (which may be re-branded as the iTV, according to CNET’s report) reportedly boats all the functionality of an iPod Touch, but with an HDMI output instead of a capacitive touchscreen. The big news? This box may come in as low as $99, breaking Apple’s typical pricey mold. So why the change of heart? Apple has been trying to take on the cable companies with subscription packages through iTunes, and following the old razor-and-razor-blade model might be the ticket to grabbing people looking to dump their cable providers. While the device will be limited to 720p in terms of video output, that’s all iTunes supports for downloadable movies and TV shows, anyway.
Personally, I’m anything but an Apple fan. But I’ve been dying for a great little media box for my TV, and GoogleTV totally underwhelmed me. I still don’t understand the purpose of most of its features over a standard media box, and the whole thing just feels like an unfocused beta concept that’s going to take years to be useful. This hypothetical iTV, if it lives up to the rumors, will be affordable and useful soon. Certainly, if this box will run existing iOS apps, there’s a lot of potential power to be had. Clients for Hulu and Netflix already exist and there’s certainly some gaming potential. If reports are accurate, and this thing can do everything it’s rumored to do, at that price, it’s definitely going to be the box for the HTPC crowd (assuming it can be jailbroken, of course).
UPDATE: ITV, a British TV channel of the same name, is none too pleased about the name change, it seems. Given that most of Apple’s iNames were previously owned by others (iOS, for example), it sounds like it’s time for another round of Let’s Make a Deal!