Did same with TV shows
While the first movies such as "Cars," "The Sixth Sense" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" were all produced by Disney -- which owns Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Touchstone Pictures and Miramax -- Apple expects that other studios will follow. As Mr. Jobs himself pointed out, iTunes first made TV shows available for download last October with five shows (from Disney-owned ABC and Disney Channel), and the service now offers 220 shows from 40 networks.
"I think the other studios are going to have to follow -- they don't really have a choice," said analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group. Still, the shift may be slow as "the studios aren't moving anywhere fast because they're so concerned about not only piracy, but their multiple-revenue-stream model."
The iTunes movie news had been rumored for some time, so it came as little surprise, and happens just days after Amazon opened its own digital music store, Amazon Unbox, with deals from most major movie studios except Disney with prices ranging from $7.99 to $14.99 per title.
Mr. Jobs, who is known for throwing in "one more thing" at press events, also showed a sneak peak at a wireless box capable of sending iTunes content from a computer to a TV. That means those downloaded movies -- and TV shows, music, photos, and even podcasts and videocasts -- will be transferable to a user's big set. The device is called "iTV" for now (Mr. Jobs has said he'd like to find a better name) and will be available in the first quarter of 2007 at a cost of $299.
"It could be incredibly powerful. Apple certainly has the ability to build breakout products, and for the living room, that could be it," Mr. Enderle said. "Still, that excitement didn't translate to the stock-market reaction ... it's too far outside the envelope of fourth quarter and those critical sales."
Apple also bowed new hardware including a lower-priced ($249) video iPod with longer battery life and brighter screen; a newly designed smaller iPod nano that's made of aluminum and available in five colors; and a second generation iPod shuffle with an aluminum case and clip. Apple is also adding NFL Networks to its iTunes TV show lineup for $1.99 per game or $24.99 for a season pass.