SAN FRANCISCO Apple shook up the technology and media industries with a pair of stirring product launches disclosed by CEO Steve Jobs during a keynote speech delivered on Tuesday during the Macworld 2007 conference here.
The company introduced iPhone, a mobile phone/MP3 player that Jobs labeled "revolutionary," and Apple TV, a device designed to allow consumers to easily access all digital media content on their TVs by connecting a single wire.
While Jobs emphasized Apple TV's power to deliver shows and movies purchased via iTunes to America's big screen TVs—as the company goes against businesses like Netflix and Blockbuster—the device's biggest impact may be on traditional ad-supported media.
Using Apple TV, which retails for $299 and ships in February, users can quickly browse and view their entire collection of digital media. That means viewers can stream video ranging from YouTube clips and music videos to full-length episodes of network shows on their TV screens.
Jobs summed up the competitive and user advantages most succinctly: "You can enjoy your media on your big screen."
If Apple TV catches on, the practice of streaming video, already hot, could go through the roof. In addition, niche programmers would have more means and motivation to subvert the cable distribution model.
Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone also has the potential to kick-start another media behavior that many Americans have been reluctant to adopt: using their mobile phones for purposes other than voice and text ("Apple is going to reinvent the phone," said Jobs).
While the primary appeal of iPhone will likely be the device's capacity to play music, Jobs presented an intuitive, easy-to-use interface that appears ideal for the delivery of mobile Web, video and other content options. For example, the phone's user-interface is navigated with just the touch of a person's finger, and video can be viewed on a wide-for-mobile 3.5-inch display.
Apple has singed Google to provide both search and mapping functionality for the device and Yahoo to provide its e-mail platform. The product is expected to ship in June.
Apple spends more than $100 million annually in U.S. measured media, working with Omnicom Group's TBWA\Chiat\Day in Playa del Rey, Calif., as its primary agency.
TBWA\C\D fashioned the legendary "1984" Super Bowl spot that heralded the Macintosh personal computer, as well as the ongoing "Mac vs. PC" campaign and the iconic silhouette imagery of Apple's iPod campaigns.
Ad plans for the iPhone and Apple TV have not been disclosed.