Big news from Apple today was introducing to things that should interest you. One is the remote control software called Front Row that is shipping with new iMacs. The other is that you can finally buy TV shows on iTunes for $1.99 an episode.
The new iMac + Front Row package looks pretty similar to the first versions of Microsoft's Media Center XP. You have simple access to your music, photos, videos, and DVD player, all from a small iPod-like remote. It doesn't look like they're concentrating on sending the video to another room or to a larger screen, but if you live in a small apartment or dorm room and don't need to send video out to a larger screen, backing away from your iMac and using the remote could be a pretty good solution for an entertainment PC.
The other big milestone is that iTunes now offers TV Show downloads. This is really big, almost as big as the launch of the iTunes Music Store in the first place. Before the iTunes Music Store came out, record company execs could often be heard decrying the state of music piracy through downloading and my take on it for the past few years has always been if you could sell songs cheap enough in an easy to get to place, you could fairly easily move music fans away from pirate channels. Apple has sold millions of songs now and shown that it is possible to convert downloaders to customers if you give them a chance to pay.
TV and Movies are in the same spot music was four years ago. If you missed a show last week your only legitimate means to see it are waiting months for a repeat or a year to buy the show DVD if they release one. But you can often find shows available for download online. Given that iTunes is selling them for $2, the low price quickly outweighs the work of finding a show and waiting for a bittorrent download (not to mention any legal risks in doing so).
Here's to hoping that ABC is the first of many networks to sign on and that movies are next. Also, it would be great if Apple could eventually send HD quality video that could be streamed to a home theater system. One things for sure -- the first steps have been taken and they're the hardest -- Apple is the first to offer paid TV show downloads and they've got a new media center package for sale. I can't wait to see what Apple has in store a couple years from now.
update: Thomas Hawk has a post about this subject as well.