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Tuesday, December 19, 2006, 06:15 am PT (09:15 am ET)

Mac OS X key to Apple's consumer electronics strategy

Apple Computer plans to leverage one of its most vital assets as it accelerates its assault on the consumer electronics markets.

People familiar with the strategy tell AppleInsider that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has been developing an operating system based on the core technologies of Mac OS X for use with embedded devices.

Apple intends to integrate the software on a couple of devices beginning early next year, those people say, while more comprehensive plans call for it to form the bedrock of a jaw-dropping device not due to hit the market until the following year.

By leveraging the underpinnings of Mac OS X, Apple is striving to deliver with its consumer electronics products the same flawless digital media experience enjoyed by the approximate 20 million people who use the system on Macs worldwide.

The commonality of the underlying software will also unlock expansive interactive capabilities between the company's electronics devices and its PCs, further fortifying its industry leading integrated model and software advantage.

One of the first Apple devices rumored to draw from the new system is the company's forthcoming iPhone. Sources have maintained that Apple plans to ship the handset on time next quarter despite a flurry of doubt from members of the analyst community.