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Will Apple Get Into The Home Theater Game? Print E-mail
Thursday, 20 January 2005

The New York Times is speculating that Apple Computer is looking to get into the home theater audio/video space, based on comments Apple founder and CEO Steven Jobs made at a recent MacWorld tradeshow. Jobs spoke about 2005 being “the year for HD video.” With over 1,000,000 DTV sets having been sold in October 2004, many think HDTV is the “killer application” for home theater and maybe the next thing needed to help sell computers.

Microsoft is betting hard, along with partners like HP, on Media Center PC products, where HD content can be played from a Windows-based system that also can manage songs, photos, be a DVR and much more. Tweeter launched a vastly redesigned store in Las Vegas during the Consumer Electronics trade show two weeks ago that is based around the smart home, networking and home theater PCs. Additionally, upstart high-end computer speaker company X-HiFi is seeing a boom in its sale of $995 per pair sub-sat high-end speaker systems. When you have $10,000 in songs on your iPod, a $1,000 pair of speakers is becoming more and more reasonable to mainstream users – not just to audiophiles.

So will Apple jump into the home theater game? Count on it. Jobs loves high-end AV. He is rumored to own ultra-high-end Wilson Audio loudspeakers and clearly has ties to the mega-successful Pixar animation studio, which in turn connects him to the movie business and the billions of dollars that can be made there. Since his return to Apple, Jobs has been able to square away major problems with his distribution, as well as have a huge hit with the iMac and even an even bigger hit with the iPod, which is quickly approaching the five million units sold mark. Macs are more than capable of playing back HD content, managing songs, playing movies and much more. Apple is about the best in the computer space at selling expensive, large-format monitors that can also play HDTV content. For many users, the same cable modem that provides them their high speed wireless Internet can also give them every local and national HDTV channel.

Apple’s easy to use interface offers the mainstream consumer the chance to buy “home theater in a box” with a level of sexy sophistication you’d expect from B&O with the technological advancements you’d expect to see in a NASA lab. And with margins razor thin in the computer business, the best reason for Apple to get into the home theater business is sheer profit. They can radically increase their profit margin and their total sale price as soon as they have a product ready to win over the world. I give them six to nine months to launch it.

Sources: New York Times

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