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Tuesday, April 10, 2007, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

Apple TV/Slingbox lash-up, Apple Corps exit, Microsoft at crossroads

The creators of the Slingbox media hub have confirmed they hope to bring Apple TV to mobile phones. Meanwhile, two of Apple, Inc.'s longest rivals in computing and music are facing a critical moment in their lives.

Slingbox to beam Apple TV to cellphones

While Apple has just managed to stream iTunes Store media to TVs, Sling Media today revealed that it's devising a way broadcast that content to mobile phones.

By modifying the software support of its Slingbox devices, which stream music and video from cable boxes and other receivers, the company said it would let anyone using its SlingPlayer phone app view that content on the road using a fast cellular connection such as AT&T's EDGE or Sprint's EVDO.

The modification was still in the testing phase but was all but certain to appear in the near future. "It is definitely something we will support," Sling PR spokesman Brian Jaquet said.

Journalists were quick to leap on the possibility of cellphone viewing, raising the possibility that Apple might have already recognized the potential link between iTunes, its media hub, and its phone. "When the iPhone ships later this year," asked Wired's Charlie Sorrel, "could this be the next part of the plan? ITunes streaming directly to iPhone?"

Aspinall takes final curtain at Apple Corps

Just as Apple's music environment is set to grow, its longstanding challenger in Britain is losing one of its best-known personalities: Neil Aspinall, who headed The Beatles' famous music label Apple Corps, announced on Tuesday that he would step down from the post after 40 years.

"He was there since the inception of the band in Liverpool and has meant so much to the Beatles' family for all these years and still does," the company said today. "However, he has decided to move on."

Aspinall had devoted virtually all his life to the record shop, helping The Beatles release their last few albums before their breakup and ensuring their long-term fame decades later.

This dedicated stance was often believed by many to have presented some of the greatest resistance to digital music and Apple, Inc. in particular, having held out on CD reissues until 1987 and embroiling itself in years-long feud with the computer company that only ended in late 2006 with a settlement.

Microsoft reaching a critical moment?

Another historical opponent of the iPod maker, Microsoft, has also been confronted with its own sea change over the past several days.

Financial institution Goldman Sachs on Tuesday pulled Microsoft from its "conviction" list, an exclusive group that Goldman Sachs reserves for its hottest properties. The latter kept the Windows developer on its "buy" list but said that the market dynamics had made it less relevant in the face of Web 2.0 apps, particularly from Google.

"Google is a competitor unlike any Microsoft has seen before," said Goldman Sachs analyst Sarah Friar. "Google’s dominance in search, deep pockets, and 'cool' factor make it a serious competitor to Microsoft as it strives to obsolete the desktop operating system."

The move was relatively timid in comparison to observations from one venture capitalist over the weekend, however. Y Combinator's Paul Graham caused a stir on the web by all but burying the software giant, saying it had been "killed" by web technology — including some of its own. It was no longer the darling of cutting-edge startup firms and users, he said, as many of them had moved on to Linux or Macs as their systems of choice.

"Apple has come back from the dead in a way that is extremely rare in technology," he wrote. "Their victory is so complete that I'm now surprised when I come across a computer running Windows. Nearly all the people we fund at Y Combinator use Apple laptops."

Apple posts Apple TV ad in HD

After a short delay, Apple today posted a streaming version of its new Apple TV ad to its website.

The ad, which began airing Monday, hopes to draw a connection between iTunes, the iPod, and the new media hub in one near-continuous shot.