The Apple TV Is Dead: $99 Next-Gen Model To Be Called iTV, Run iOS, And Play Back At 720p

The next version of the Apple TV is coming soon. There’s been a few rumors over the last month that the next version will be around $99 and feature some sort of cloud-based streaming. But that’s about it. Well, the crazy kids over at Engadget apparently have it on good authority that those two rumors are correct and the next Apple TV, or as it will be called, the iTV, is right around the corner. Like it or not, this might be the device to finally spring media streamers from a niche market to the mainstream. Just in time for the Boxee box and the Popbox to swing in and steal the show.

Heck, by the time the iTV comes around, most TVs will have their own app stores.

Anything Apple produces these days see incredible sales numbers the first few weeks of its retail life. It’s crazy to think that Apple sold 3 million iPads in a mere months, but while the iPad is pretty darn complete device thanks to the wide range of apps, the Apple TV, or iTV if you will, likely will leave a lot of people wanting more.

If these rumors are correct, the device probably will be centered around a modified version of iOS, redesigned for HD resolution. The interface will probably be superior to the GUI found on the current Apple TV. But the capabilities seem lacking.

Engadget notes that the iTV will only be capable of 720p playback because of something with the A4 chip. However, it’s more likely that while the device is capable of 1080p, the device will be limited to playing-back iTunes content only — which is 720p. See where I’m going? The iTV will probably be nothing like the Apple TV. (e.g. no local or network file playback)

As of late, Apple locks down their devices as tight as legally possible. That’s not the case with the older Apple TV platform. It’s about the easiest device to hack and mod imaginable. Users have found ways to get the streamer run all sorts of different operating systems, in turn creating a device some what like the first Xbox with people purchasing it with the sole intent of modding. This can’t sit well with Apple.

Of course this is all speculation at this point. For all we know, Engadget’s report is wrong and there’s no such thing as the iTV. But when you look at all the rumors — iPhone size, iTunes rentals/streams, $99 pricetag — it all says mainstream device with very limited feature set.

That’s fine. There are two fantastic media streamers hitting the market real soon. The Popbox and Boxee Box will be happy to pick up where the iTV leaves off. Both of these streamers offer very easy access to free TV content found around the web via beautiful interfaces. Plus, they offer local and network streaming, low prices, and in the Boxee Box’s case, a QWERTY remote. The $99 iTV will do nothing but open up doors for these two next-gen streamers.