Apple TV Could Be Renamed iTV, Feature Apps

Apple TV could be renamed iTV, according to an unnamed source quoted by tech blog Engadget, and feature the ability to run apps. Although Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook once referred to Apple TV as the company's "hobby," the rise of Google TV could goad Apple into devoting more resources to the segment.

Apple TV will soon be renamed iTV, according to the latest rumors circulating online, and leverage a new iTunes streaming service for content.

Those rumors come courtesy of Engadget, which claims a trusted but unnamed source in the matter. That source also suggested that, thanks to an unspecified issue with Apple's proprietary A4 processor, the next version of the company's set-top box "won't be capable of handling (or enabled to handle) 1080i or 1080p video ... it will only push out 720p clips." The new device will apparently have the ability to run apps, although it was unclear whether there would be any synergy with Apple's current mobile-device family.

Rumors of an update for Apple TV, which can feed a variety of digital content to televisions, have been circulating for some time. In May, Engadget editor Joshua Topolsky claimed that the upcoming version of Apple TV would run iOS4, leverage the A4 processor, and cost $99. In addition, he claimed at the time, the device would feature 16GB of flash storage and "be capable of full 1080p HD."

If those specs eventually prove accurate, then iTV will represent a radical departure from the current Apple TV, which offers 160GB of storage and costs $229. Apple TV relies on iTunes for HD movies, TV shows and music, but can also display YouTube videos and images from iPhoto and Flickr.

Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook famously referred to Apple TV as the company's "hobby" during a Goldman Sachs technology conference in February. "The reason that we call it a hobby," he told the audience, "If you look at the other businesses we're in, these businesses are all in huge markets. The unit [volume] in these things is huge. Apple TV is in a market that's very small."

Nonetheless, Apple TV has also experienced some year-over-year growth; on top of that, keeping the device in circulation would allow Apple to challenge Google, whose own plans in the segment revolve around the newly announced Google TV.

Originally announced May 20 at Google I/O, Google TV will funnel search, video, Twitter and a number of Web applications through a set-top box. Additionally, the service will also leverage a version of the Google Chrome Web browser and support both Google applications and Google ads. Users would be able to navigate via a special remote control from Logitech or an Android 2.1 or higher smartphone.

"Hobby" or not, if Apple TV-or iTV-and Google TV gain traction with audiences, it could herald yet more competition between the two companies.