Apple Computer Inc. on Wednesday introduced a new version of its market-leading iPod that also plays videos and unveiled a deal with Walt Disney Co. to sell television shows like "Desperate Housewives".
Apple, which also unveiled a computer with a remote control, has long aimed to make its devices the hub for digital entertainment inside and outside the home, and Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the ABC deal was a turning point in bringing television to the Web.
"I think it's hard to overestimate the plate tectonic movement of this deal," Jobs said in an interview. "I think it's just the beginning."
The new devices drew oohs and ahs at the unveiling, although some analysts questioned whether consumers would want to watch TV on such a small screen.
As part of its deal with Disney's ABC network, iPod users will be able to download five shows including ABC's "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost." Current-season episodes of the series will be made available at the iTunes music store the day after broadcast.
The entire first season of "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" will be available immediately. The television shows are only available in the United States and cost $1.99 per episode, without commercials.
Media companies and computer companies have traditionally been at odds over bringing entertainment to the Web, given rampant piracy of music online, and Disney and Apple said their deal was a watershed, reports Reuters.
"For the first time ever, hit prime time shows can be purchased online the day after they air on TV," said Disney Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger in a statement. "We're delighted to be working with Apple to offer fans a new and innovative way to experience our wildly popular shows like 'Desperate Housewives' 'Lost' and 'That's So Raven'."
Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple said the new iPod - priced from $299 - will be shipped to stores next week.
The iPod has turned around Apple's fortunes and has helped spur industrywide sales of digital music players as well as legal online music.
On Tuesday, the company said it had sold 6.5 million iPods during its fiscal fourth quarter a record.
However, investors and industry analysts were disappointed because they had expected iPod sales as much as 8 million for the quarter ended Sept. 24.
Apple's other products notably Mac desktop and laptop computers continue to benefit from the popularity of the iPod, fiscal fourth-quarter results show. Computer sales rose to 1.2 million from 836,000 in the same period last year, informs LA Times.