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MEDIA CENTRES / SET TOP BOXES

Apple TV Delayed

By Wire Service | Saturday | 03/03/2007

The Apple TV device has been delayed in the USA but may not be delayed in Australia. Scheduled to launch in February in the USA, Apple has announced that it will not hit shelves till at least mid March 07.

First unveiled by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs late last year with the code name iTV, Apple TV is a TV set-top device designed to receive digital content such as downloaded TV shows and movies over a wireless network and play them on a TV set. Currently in Australia Apple is lining up content deals with several TV stations and movie content providers being approached to cut content deals.

When officially announced by Apple  on Jan. 9, Jobs said the device would ship by the end of February. Apple's story now is simply that it's "taking a few weeks longer than expected" to finish the project and that the target is to have the product on store shelves by mid-March. A specific date was not given. SHN has been told that Apple is keen to to cement a better relationship with CISCO in an effort to get access to new wireless and settop box technology that CISCO has spent the last 2 years working on.

Regulatory Snag Possible
Apple is not the first tech titan to try to devise a better way to take video downloaded to a PC and make it available for viewing on a TV. Nor is it the first to hit snags . What's not clear is the cause. "At this stage of the game, they should be accumulating in a warehouse somewhere, ready to get out of the retail gate," says analyst Dave Carey of Portelligent, a research.

The company hired to make the Apple TV device is widely believed to be the Taiwanese contract manufacturer Inventec, which makes the video iPod for Apple.  An Apple spokeswoman wouldn't comment on the identity of the company involved. Other companies that make products for Apple include Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as FoxConn, as well as Asustek and Quanta Computer.

One possibility is that Apple has yet to receive approval for the device from the Federal Communications Commission. The most recent Apple product to receive FCC approval was the latest version of the Airport wireless networking hub. It was approved on Jan. 9. The Apple TV device doesn't readily appear among the many products for which Apple has sought approval since the beginning of 2006, based on a search of the FCC Web site. "A pushout of two to three weeks suggests to me more of an issue with the FCC than with anything else," Carey says. Calls to the FCC weren't immediately returned.

In Search of the Holy Grail
Another issue may be a component shortage. Component suppliers known to have pieces in the Apple TV include Intel (, Marvell and Seagate.  But a parts shortage probably would have been known long before Jobs set such an aggressive ship date for the product. "I doubt that it's an issue in the supply chain, because Apple is using common parts," says Chris Crotty, an analyst at iSuppli, a market research firm that specializes in electronic supply chain information. "Unless there's a special custom chip being used, there's no obvious component that strikes me as likely to have caused this delay."

Then there's the prospect that Apple—like so many other consumer electronics makers before it—simply had a harder time than expected in reaching the PC-to-TV entertainment holy grail. Whatever the cause, if it does meet its mid-March deadline and Apple TV is a success, Apple will still be well ahead of the pack.

 

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