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Apple strays from the beat

For years, Apple resisted adding video features to the iPod, noting that the device was primarily about the music. Even when it introduced a video-capable iPod, it did so in the context of a better music device, offering higher capacity, greater battery life and a larger screen “for free.” With its recent rush to complete its three-screen strategy, though, it seems like music has become a bit lost in the Shuffle, so to speak.

Take AppleTV, for example. As I note in this week’s Switched On, its business model is practically the reverse of the iPod’s as digital video purchases from the iTunes store drives digital media adapter sales. If Apple were more focused on extending its music franchise, it would follow to release an audio-only device more along the lines of Slim Devices’ Squeezebox, now owned by Logitech. Of course, the Squeezebox is but one of the several remote audio devices that can interoperate with the iPod or unprotected tracks in iTunes.

AppleTV’s user interface looks good and polished as one might expect, but also a bit stark when compared to Windows Media Center’s, and who wants to turn on their television just to listen to some music?

It could be that Apple now feels that its lead is so far ahead in the digital music space that it can devote more attention to video.