Apple unveils online movie store, gadget that connects online video to TV

Seeking to push digital media further into homes, Apple Computer launched its long-awaited online movie service Tuesday and showed off a device that will make it easier for consumers to watch the videos on television.

The iTunes Music Store, however, will initially carry movies only from The Walt Disney Co. studios, where Apple CEO Steve Jobs is a board member. By contrast, Amazon.com Inc.'s movie service launched last week with distribution deals with seven studios but not Disney.

At a media event Tuesday, Jobs also showed off a compact gadget, dubbed iTV, that will allow consumers to watch movies purchased online as well as other digital content stored on a computer on a connected television set. It will sell for $299 (Ђ235) and be available early next year.

He said more than 75 films will be available on iTunes from Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Touchstone Pictures and Miramax. New releases will be priced at $12.99 (Ђ10.22), when pre-ordered and during the first week of sale, or $14.99 (Ђ11.79) afterward. Library titles will be sold for $9.99 (Ђ7.86) each.

Other online movie services already exist but haven't attracted many customers. Apple, however, is already being cast as a leading competitor with its entry.

Bringing digital content stored on a computer and playing it back on a television has been a vexing challenge for online movie providers.

And as many expected, Apple is tackling that problem, reports AP.

With iTV, digital content stored on computers could more easily be played on TVs, Jobs said.

"We think it completes the picture here. Now I could download content from iTunes. I could enjoy it on my computer, my iPod and my big-screen television in the living room," he said.

Apple has been forging ahead to make its products the digital media hub for consumers. Its iconic iPod player is designed for music and video on-the-go, its iTunes Music Store is a leading destination for getting digital content, and its Macintosh computers are touted for being able to manage all media.