March 21, 2007 -- This week Apple Inc. will begin shipping Apple TV, a gadget that wirelessly connects televisions and computers.
People willing to pay $299 for the new device will be able to watch Internet-based videos and other content on their widescreen televisions. The units should be available in Apple Stores and through other authorized retailers Thursday, according to Lynn Fox, an Apple spokeswoman.
The Cupertino, Calif., company originally planned to ship the Apple TV last month but delayed the launch without giving a reason. The one-month delay is minor, and Apple said it expects little or no impact on sales.
"In the tech industry, it's not unusual for a delay like this," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, a technology consulting firm. It is better for Apple to take the time to work out any potential bugs than rush the product to market, he said.
Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research, called the delay "relatively minor," saying it would just push revenue back one quarter. "I don't think it's that big of a deal," he said.
Bajarin and Wu both spoke highly of the Apple TV, which has a 40 gigabyte hard drive and can store up to 50 hours of video, 25,000 photos and as many as 9,000 songs.
"Apple's really nailed it in how you bring content from the computer to the TV," Bajarin said, noting that the interface is "incredibly easy to use."
The new device will be scooped up in the coming weeks by "early adopters," Bajarin predicted. The Apple TV is likely to be one of this year's holiday hit products, he added.
Wu said that while other leading consumer electronics companies have similar devices, "none of them have been particularly successful."
Apple's big success, the iPod music player, was also not a first-out product. But Apple revolutionized and expanded the market, turning a niche product into a mainstream staple, Wu said.
Apple has a very strong brand name whose aura alone could drive sales, according to Wu. He doesn't expect the Apple TV to be quite as successful as the iPod, but with 100 million iPods sold, even a small fraction of those sales would still be significant.
"It's simple and elegant," Wu said of the new product. "I think everyone's curious how it's going to do."