Apple have recently announced iTV (the name is going to change or else ITV won't be too happy). This is a $300 white box that hooks up to your TV and allows you to stream video and music to it from a PC.

Wow, this is just the sort of innovation Apple does such an awesome job at. Taking an existing idea, reducing the feature set and charging twice as much.

The idea seems somehow familiar to me... Hmmm I seem to recall Microsoft 3 years ago announcing Media Center Extenders which not only stream music, video and pictures, but also TV, that's right! iTV has no support for recording TV etc, I guess they call it iTV because you can plug it into a TV not because it is a TV.

As per usual the Apple press are foaming at their mouths over Apple's latest "innovation". Seemingly not realising that my Xbox 360 has been doing the same and more for nearly a year already, and all the people with the 1st generation extenders for even longer.

Ed Bott writes a brilliant article on this whole issue:

Apparently, every copy of Mac OS X comes with a Cognitive Dissonance add-in. This feature allows Mac cultists to loudly accuse Microsoft of ripping off features when it's convenient, and to blindly miss the ripoffs that go the other way.

Basically what Apple are doing is letting you give them $300 for a white box that plugs into your TV, but doesn't let you record TV but instead lets you buy $15 films from iTunes, cool right? Oh they're only 640x480, oh and $15 what a rip off! Xbox 360 can handle HDTV both 1280x720 and 1920x1080, and you don't have to pay Apple for the TV shows, you just record them when they're on the TV and if they're not on the TV, any compatible video on your PC from any source will play too, or you could even watch a DVD, yeah that reminds me iTV can't play DVDs either.

The Simpsons Recorded TV on Windows Media Center

Sorry I'd rather pay $300 for an Xbox 360, have all the games and all that stuff, and have a Media Center Extender that lets me do so much more.

Robert Scoble talks a bit about it also:

Now, do you remember when I met Steve Jobs on a street corner in San Francisco? Remember what he said to me? “Nice to meet the guys who are copying us.” (Us being Apple, since I was there with Dean Hachamovitch, executive at Microsoft, he was saying that Apple leads, Microsoft follows.

Well, Steve, the honor turns out to be mine! Your UI looks an awful lot like Windows Media Center. Almost a total copy. So, who is copying whom? What’s next, a Tablet PC copy?

Did you hear that funny noise? It was my irony gland exploding. Microsoft have been very busy over the last 5 years, Steve Jobs makes a point of noting all Microsoft have been trying to do is ship one version of Windows, yeah whatever Steve. Microsoft have been busy pushing boundaries back with technologies like Media Center and Tablet PC, looks like Apple have just realised they're being left behind and are trying to catch up with half-finished over-priced products.

Things aren't going too well with their stronghold of iTunes either, with users reporting serious flaws with version 7. Could Apple's mini empire be built on shaky foundations?