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Apple Future is iTunes not Computer

01/13/07 | by JAdP | Categories: Computers and Internet, Mobile, Computers and Internet, Mobile

MacWorld SF 2007 is now over, and my take away is that Apple is betting its future on iTunes becoming the center of your entertainment universe.

  1. The Apple iPhone is an iPod with a far better UI and screen than previous generation iPods. Oh, and by the way, it has a GSM phone as well as EDGE and WiFi networks so you can enhance your entertainment experience by communicating with your friends and researching what's entertaining you.
  2. The Apple TV is an iPod that gets your iTunes content to your home theater; especially video to your TV. And that is all it does.
  3. Like Dell before it, Apple has dropped the word "computer" from its corporate identity. Apple, Inc. is now a consumer electronics firm.

What will this mean for MacOSX, and the computers that run it? Well, TiVo's product is software and a web service running on Linux. They've been proving for a decade that there is room for a computer in your home theater system. They haven't provided other computing experiences that might enhance your enjoyment of the show you're watching, as I still need another computer to give me Firefox in a PiP window on my TV.

It took Roxio, in Toast 8 Titanium to bring TiVo to Go to Mac. Apple TV goes the other direction and brings iTunes video to your TV. I can get TiVo to Go on my Palm Lifedrive, and TiVo to Go is available for iPods [though TiVo desktop for Windows or MacOSX and/or Roxio Toast for the Mac is required]. Perhaps one of the blank spaces on the iPhone home screen will be some version of TiVo to Go, but likely you'll just get it through a playlist like any other iPod.

Even with its great new xServe though, it would seem that Apple, Inc. isn't very interested in the business market, except perhaps as servers for video-on-demand, iTunes music stores, and becoming the TelCo backend infrastructure Apple might need to sew this all up very neatly.

The consumer converged entertainment/communication market is Apple's direction, and with its great sense of style and design, innovative interface, and market panache, I think Apple, Inc. will be a booming [pun intended] success in that space.

To bring a point to my thoughts, imagine an Apple home with entertainment, communication and computing converged through various Apple devices: an Apple grid of Mac Minis [maybe a laptop or two, maybe not] and iMacs, Apple TVs, iPods and iPhones; TiVo to Go or similar Apple branded service, and VoIP to supplement your current video and phone carriers. At the center of it all is iTunes - your entertainment source, and maybe, to a lesser extent, some version of .Mac [dot-mac] separately or integrated into iTunes, as the hub for all your other online needs.

This could truly help to bring the converged experience to the non-geek.

Looked at in this light, the iPhone isn't as bad as I originally had thought. It still won't replace my Lifedrive. Where would I read my eBooks? The scenario imagined above doesn't help me live the TeleInterActive Lifestyle. It doesn't help free work from geography, nor integrate access to and management of both business and personal data. It won't let me renew a prescription from anywhere, any time, nor access a productivity dashboard or customer history whenever, wherever. Though it might, to an extent, through Safari. I'm not the target market.

If my analysis is correct, Apple is more completely focused on the consumer than ever, and has completed its withdraw from the business battlefront.

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4 comments

Comment from: lrd
lrd

You’re absolutley right- it doesn’t pay for Apple to sell it’s products to corporations because traditionaly there’s been a distain for Apple products going back to the days of ” Really IBM.” I remember IT guys telling me GUIs are for kids!

Apple must then focus the larger and more lucrative markets for it’s products- the 10s of millions of consumer who make their own choice using theie own money. It must also focus on content delivery and playback. Again this is driven by individual choice and not some It guys that told me 20 years ago that GUI’s were for kids and now makes up other lame exxuse for using Windows.

And besides, let’s face it only selling boxes is risky especially as we near feature saturation on the Windows and Mac OS side.

Apple having the ability and creativity to create other revenues streams through it’s hardware only makes sense in the long run. Diversification is key– just watch Gateway, Lenovo and Dell stocks ihe coming months and you’ll see.

01/14/07 @ 15:53
Comment from: JAdP

Yeah, GUIs kinda are for kids - or old folks. It makes it easier to do things without bothering to understand what’s going on under the covers. I fall back to CLI often - quicker, more efficient, and gives me a better understanding of what’s really happening.

I remember, way back in ‘82 of the last century, we had an engineering intern at Martin Marietta. A fellow system engineer, who I looked to somewhat as a mentor, asked the intern to do some simple task. The kid pulls out a calculator. Our ol’ system engineer stopped and told him that it wasn’t that hard a problem; he should do it in his head. The intern was completely dependent on his calculator. He couldn’t do it. It was almost as simple as 2*2=4 [remember when we would have written 2x2=4?]. Heck, only 6 years earlier the first HP calculators hit my college - and we weren’t allowed to use them during exams. And in that short a time, college students were dependent on calculators. So were you a picket or a post fan? Those were two slide rule companies. ;-) Today Informatica experts can’t do data mapping or program complex transformation for data integration if the problem is outside the functions provided by Informatica’s proprietary drag’n'drop interface. /blechk

But to your point, Ird, I’m not sure that Apple is diversifying. I think they’re focusing in on the consumer, entertainment market, and that they’ll do so based upon what they’ve learned as a computer company, with hardware and web services that just might blow the competition away. The competition ranging from Sony to the networks.

Robert Scoble recently said that Netflix is dead. I think that Netflix, Blockbuster, TV and radio networks, movie distribution houses, and so on, must deal with the Internet, and change the way that entertainment is delivered. Apple is dealing with it now. So is Microsoft with the Xbox360 and Media Home Server. Same problem, different approaches.

It’s going to be interesting.

01/14/07 @ 18:43
Comment from: lrd
lrd

Joe-

I view Apple as competing more with traditonal hardware folks, or box makers, than with MS per say. And this is where I make my comparison insofar as diversification. For example, how does Apple compare to a Lenovo or Gateway?

And the reason I do this is because I see Apple taking advantange of these companies falling on hard times in the near future. Mainly because they sell boxes and that’s it.

01/14/07 @ 19:17
Comment from: JAdP

In many ways, Apple is structured more like Sun Microsystems than Lenovo or Gateway or even Dell, because Apple, like Sun, develops software as well as hardware, and tunes their operating system to a particular hardware architecture. This makes for great stability, performance and reliability.

I see, and it’s just my opinion, Apple’s business strategy as focusing on serving the consumer entertainment market, with complete infrastructure and tools. Starting with the Apple xServe and ending with devices like the iPod and iPhone, with personal computers in the middle.

I think that Apple just ignores “box companies” like Lenovo and Gateway, and even Dell [which hasn’t made much headway with their PDAs and PAPs]. Of course, companies like Sun, IBM and HP are much more focused on the enterprise market, and only rarely compete with Apple in that space.

Microsoft and Apple compete, at least theoretically, for the SMB server, SMB/consumer desktop/laptop, and now phone operating system markets, and on several software types. And more and more, Microsoft is competing against Apple for consumer entertainment mind share, with products like Zune, Xbox and the home media server.

As long as some variant of Microsoft Windows has 90% plus of the PC OS market, I think that Dell, Lenovo, Gateway, HP, and others box makers will be doing just fine, as long as they can squeeze some profit out of their shrinking margins. But hardware commoditization is another topic. :-D

01/15/07 @ 12:29
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I'm Joseph A. di Paolantonio and this blog has two main foci: my interest in food, and my interest in the future. This provides a look into my personal life, and is separate from my consulting work…though there will be overlap. I am an independent researcher, working as a strategic consultant and I'm an executive with over 20 years of commercial experience with a technical interest in the intersection of Internet of Things, with advanced data management and analysis methods. I view data science as a team activity, and I feel that the IoT must be viewed as a system. I am leveraging my past activities to understand the adoption and impact of the IoT; first, as a system engineer in aerospace, where I developed Bayesian risk assessment methods for systems within the Space Transportation System (including the Space Shuttle), Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer, Gravity Probe B, and many more, and second, as a enterprise data warehousing, business intelligence and analytics professional. Between my aerospace and IT careers, I indulged my hobby of cooking by starting a food company, Montara Magic, centered around my chocolate sauces. My education combined chemistry, mathematics and philosophy. I performed research into molten salt fuel cells in graduate school, and in photovoltaic materials for a short time in industry. The lure of bringing the human race into space was strong, and when I was offered the chance to combine my chemistry and mathematics skills to develop new risk assessment and system engineering methods for space launch and propulsion systems – I couldn't resist. I perform independent research and strategic consulting to bring value from the Internet of Things, Sensor Analytics Ecosystems and data science teams.I am a caregiver, a lover of science fiction and speculative fantasy, and my passion to learn has led me to a pilot's license, an assistant instructor in SCUBA, nordic and alpine skiing, sea kayaking, and reading everything I can, in as many topics as I can.

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