A memo to all iPod-dock stereo manufacturers -- your time is up. That goes for you, Logic, and you, Emerson, and even you, Sony.

The harbinger of your doom -- the new Apple TV. That's right, the device at the hub of Apple's new digital movie rental service is also kicking open the door to a whole new way of enjoying music in the home -- iPod not included, or needed. It's the latest and most high-profile example of an ongoing effort to bridge the living room home entertainment system with Internet-based digital content.

To date, the experience has been all about the iPod, hence the proliferation of devices aimed at porting the iPod to the living room. Some are simply a set of speakers, others are tabletop boomboxes and even full-fledged stereo systems with iPod docks.

But all are clumsy stopgap solutions that simply replace one physical medium -- the CD -- with another -- the iPod. The Apple TV shifts gears and allows users to access digital entertainment content right from the source -- iTunes. Previously, it only was able to stream movies and music stored on a connected computer. Now it allows users to rent movies and buy songs by connecting to iTunes directly, in addition to its computer-streaming capabilities.

To be sure, the Apple TV is not breaking new ground here. You can stream or download movies from Amazon's UnBox service, Netflix and even the Xbox 360. There are even more solutions to stream digital music directly off the Internet -- from Sonos to Squeezebox to a number of new Rhapsody-enabled home entertainment appliances.

But Apple CEO Steve Jobs does have a nose for timing, and this evolution of the Apple TV is his way of saying now is the time to start focusing on the living room.

Click here to read more about Jobs’ decision, RealNetworks' Rhapsody aggressiveness on the digital front, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game platform, and Apple’s next logical step in the streaming music space.