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Apple Launches Movie Downloads, New iPod, nano, shuffle

San Francisco — True to at least some of the rumors circulating in the past week, Apple introduced a new iTunes 7 download site with 75 movies for download and announced a new video iPod with a larger screen, a smaller iPod shuffle and a new nano.

According to reports from those attending the Apple press conference today, Apple also showed a new product, code named the iTV that will wirelessly deliver movies purchased online to a TV set.It is expected to sell for $299 beginning early next year.

“Here we go again!First music, then TV shows, and now movies,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, in a prepared release.

The movies will be offered initially from Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Touchstone Pictures and Miramax Films for purchase.They may be viewed on a computer, or an iPod or the upcoming iTV player.

Movies will become available on the iTunes Store the same day they are released on DVD with the new releases priced at $12.99 when pre-ordered or during the first week of their availability, and $14.99 thereafter. Library titles are available at $9.99.

Although the selection initially will be limited, Jobs noted that a year ago iTunes offered only five TV shows and now delivers over 220. “We hope to do the same with movies,” he said in a prepared release noting that iTunes is selling over one million videos a week “and we hope to match this with movies in less than a year.”

iTunes 7 for Mac and Windows is available immediately as a free download.

The company’s new, fifth-generation iPod features a 60 percent brighter, 2.5-inch color screen, improved for watching movies. It is available in a 30GB model at $249, lower than its predecessor, and in an 80GB version, which holds up to 20,000 songs or 100 hours of video for $349.

Battery life for the two models is 14 hours for music playback and up to 3.5 hours for video or 20 hours of music and 5.5 hours for video, respectively.

The iPod is joined by a new shuffle, which is nearly half the size of the original and weighs only half an ounce. It contains 1GB of flash memory at $79. Also available is a new nano with 24-hours of battery life at lower prices than the previous generation. A new 8GB model is available for $249, followed by a 2GB model at $149, and a 4GB for $199. Models are available in colors including silver, pink, green, blue and black.

New accessories are also available for the nano including lanyard headphones, an armband, a dock and compact USB power adaptor that is half the size of the previous model.

Analysts have speculated recently that Apple’s entrance into the movie delivery market could kick-start sales just as Apple did in the music download market. iTunes has sold 1.5 billion songs since its inception and is the leading digital music service.

Some of the first movies to be offered on iTunes will include “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Shakespeare in Love,” “The Princess Diaries,” “The Incredibles,” “National Treasure,” and “Toy Story.”All videos purchased from the iTune Store are downloaded in near-DVD quality, said Apple. iTunes now offers downloads of video games for fifth-generation iPods including “Tetris,” and “Pac-Man.”