More progress in the race to hook your TV up to the Internet: Tiny set top box maker Roku will add Amazon (AMZN) streaming movie rentals to its $99 digital video set-top box. Until now, the device only played movies from Netflix’s (NFLX) streaming service, which required a Netflix subscription.
This is a good move by Roku, and will likely benefit Amazon (though not materially).
It also puts pressure on Apple (AAPL) to improve its Apple TV set-top box, which Apple CEO Steve Jobs still describes as a “hobby.”
Besides the obvious — cutting its price — what do we think Apple could to to make Apple TV more attractive? As we’ve said before…
- Add a DVD and/or Blu-ray player. Even if the gadget’s main purpose is for Internet video, it needs to replace something in our living room. Our old DVD player is ready to get swapped out. (Yes, people are still buying DVD players — they’re projected to significantly outsell Blu-ray players this year.)
- Open it up to more Internet video beyond iTunes and YouTube. Sites like Hulu, MLB.TV, ABC/NBC/CBS/Fox, or any Flash/Silverlight-enabled video on the Web. Apple’s goal here is to make money selling gadgets — it barely profits from iTunes sales. So let’s make the Apple TV more attractive, even if it costs iTunes a little.
Last year at Macworld, Steve Jobs announced Apple TV movie rentals, which helped. We’re hoping his colleague Phil Schiller has more Apple TV announcements to make during his Macworld keynote tomorrow, too. We’ll cover the event live — check back for more tomorrow beginning at 12 noon ET.