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AppleTV does YouTube

Just in case you haven't gotten enough Apple news today, Steve Jobs used the All Things D: conference this afternoon to announce a new feature for the Apple TV: starting in mid-June, it will be able to stream videos from YouTube.

 

Apple_tv This is potentially a breakthrough development, but only if the capability soon extends to all major online sources of streaming video. At the very least, the Apple TV needs to be able to receive streams from TV network sites and MySpace. Given that he sells downloadable versions of TV shows at his iTunes Store, Jobs may not be terribly interested in providing a way for customers to watch the same programs for free from, say, NBC.com. But if the point is to bridge the gap between an Internet-connected PC and the TV -- and that should be the point -- the device has to be business-model agnostic. In other words, it has to handle advertiser-supported streams (which are growing by leaps and bounds) as well as it does downloaded media.

I recently spent some time playing with Netgear's Digital Entertainer HD, a set-top box that competes with the Apple TV. While it has no internal hard drive to synchronize with a computer the way the Apple TV can, it isn't limited to downloaded video -- it can stream clips from YouTube. I found that this feature worked brilliantly, but it merely whetted my appetite for other sources of streamed video. Unfortunately, the box couldn't link to any other video sites. That meant I couldn't get to MySpace for "24," or to CBS.com for "Shark." So that killed the buzz I initially had for the Netgear box, and made me hope for more wide-ranging capabilities in the next version. Here's hoping Apple doesn't stop at YouTube, too.

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Times editorial writer Jon Healey pens opinion pieces about a variety of business issues, and blogs about technologies that are changing the entertainment industry's business model.

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