Solution Providers Pumped Up About Apple TV

"It's like Tivo on steroids," said Steve Feldman, president of Graphtech, a Deerfield, Ill., Apple partner who is looking forward to selling the new product to business clients who want to put an Apple TV in their home. "It's really cool."

The $299 sleek VCR-sized box with built in 802.11 wireless functionality allows consumers to watch movies or listen to music they have downloaded from Apple iTunes on a TV. It includes a 40-Gbyte hard drive that can store up to 50 hours of what Apple calls "near DVD quality" video. Apple is recommending a 42-inch or larger TV screen.

"It's more of a consumer-level product, but our business clients are looking for us to help them with home entertainment and networking," said Feldman, who hosted an Apple roundtable at distribution giant Ingram Micro's VentureTech Conference Wednesday. "The whole media center concept will be important to us. As we push the concept of managed services, executives are going to want us to support them in home environments. They are already asking us to support PDAs. Anything that is connected they want us to support."

Feldman said his managed services business will grow 50 percent to 100 percent this year. During the same period, he expects his Apple sales to be up 15 percent to 20 percent.

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Feldman said the biggest opportunity in the Apple market segment is not the product sale, but the services sale.

Apple initially expected to ship the Apple TV product in February, but delayed it until mid-March because it took longer than expected to complete.

"It's another consumer product that will bring people into the stores," said Charlie Thomas, director of corporate sales for TekServe, a New York City Apple partner. "We specialize in explaining it and demystifying it for consumers."

Thomas said both his Apple consumer and business sales are growing.

"Apple is going through a renaissance and we are benefiting from it," he said. "We're having a good year."

Peter Gambino, a senior sales director for Ingram Micro, one of a number of distributors that will carry the Apple TV product, said Apple TV is the next logical step in Apple's iTunes music and movie product lineup.

"Keep in mind this is not Tivo per say," cautioned Gambino. "You are not recording programs. You are taking content that you have purchased and pushing it to your family or entertainment center to view."

Ingram is adding several new VARs a month who are adding Apple to their product lineup. "More are dabbling it on their own," said Gambino.