Here's some news that should be enough to make a fanboy's head explode: Kevin Rose says that Apple will release a $99 set-top box for televisions, the iTV, next month.

Rose, who is generally pretty good about anticipating Apple's moves and seems to have some knowledgeable sources inside the company, predicts that the new device will allow users to download apps, similar to the ones on their cell phones and says it "will change everything." The iTV would run the same operating system that powers Apple's iPhone.

I'm not as convinced as Rose that the Apple TV will cause me to break my $100 a month cable habit, but I am pretty stoked about this new gadget (if it exists). First, because it's annoyingly hard to play YouTube videos on big screen, and second because an application ecosystem will create yet another big opportunity for entrepreneurs. App developers who have made hay with the unprecedented access to people's cell phone handsets, will now be able to dream up stuff for our living rooms as well. Get ready for a new generation of entertainment start-ups.

In a debate with Chris Anderson over Wired's "Web is Dead" story, Tim O'Reilly explains why app ecosystems like the one that we might see on the iTV are exciting to entrepreneurs:

Now, the app ecosystems on mobile are giving us yet more ways for developers to come up with creative ideas that are good enough that people are willing to pay for them. So I say, developers are finding MORE ways to get paid, and getting over the idea that somehow advertising was going to be this magic fairy dust, and you think this is a bad thing? I'm delighted that the Internet economy is getting richer and more complex. It's called maturity. So I'll agree that the web is dead if you will agree that a child is dead once he or she becomes an adult. But frankly, I don't see it that way. The child lives on, but changes as he or she grows older.

(If you've been following the back and forth about that Wired story, I recommend reading the debate in full. It's fascinating--and gives O'Reilly a chance to flex those writing muscles.)