By Rick Aristotle Munarriz
The latest threat to Apple's iPod empire is coming from an unlikely source: Disney. The Mickey Mouse company announced that it would be entering the portable multimedia market next month by introducing its Max Mix digital media player. The new device is priced aggressively at $99.99 and allows playback -- and limited storage -- of video, music, and photo files.
Yes, Apple's Steve Jobs is Disney's largest shareholder. Yes, Disney has been a model validating buddy as the first major film studio to push digital video downloads through Apple. Yes, the new Max Mix even comes with a copy of Apple arch-rival Microsoft's Media Player software.
However, let's not be so quick to see this as a rift between Jobs and Disney. Disney has been a minor player in this area since it rolled out its Mix Stick
product line last year. The new Mix Max is really no threat to the hard drive-based iPods, which also play video and music and store digital snapshots.