Ok, so to be ever so original, but perhaps unique to the small group that read this blog for their Ed related content, here is my take on the Apple TV and the iPhone.
First the shortcomings, the phone doesn’t have a camera and the Apple TV is only a way to cue and play media – not interactive. Why are these shortcomings? Well the first should be rather obvious – if RIM finally figured that there should be a camera in a consumer device, then why didn’t Apple take the hint? (I guess I missed this there is a camera – a 2MP… but I’ll still complain as there are no video… so that is still to complain about… and RIM hasn’t done that either) I think it may have been a comprise for the thickness of the unit and the interface/display. And Apple TV – no interactivity? Well this is only a shortcoming if you are looking at it from my point of view – there is no way way to add data to what you are viewing – that means that in an educational sense, this is only marginally useful – basically if you have an educational podcast, you can now view it “large and in charge” using your home theater. Having said that, the specialized use that I would think to use the Apple TV for (at least staring songs) is not really going to matter, nor (I think) are the other specs that people have jumped on (720p vs 1080i). To it’s credit, Apple has had a knack for being able to see what the essential specs and functionality for a product are and take off from there.
The “long-goings”? Well, Apple has edged closer to the complete convergence device with the iPhone (if the entire phone runs OSX – then like the WinCE phones, why not run other applications?). They have also come very close to providing everyone a reason to (as Bill Gates mentioned at the CES keynote) to have a computer… any computer in every house. Computers exist to feed iTunes (for Apple and every iPod based system) data or to provide for whatever the Windows Media Manager thing that will run the Zune and the MS/Ford – I would never even think about getting that … not only is it a Ford (Found on Road Dead), but it’s freaking MS BSOD!! -. So the real master of all this computing power that we are seeing enter the home is the music/video/photo manager – not the word processor or even the web-browser. The iPhone also has it’s “internet device” element which is good (with an amazing Minority Report-esque interface), but unless the rates for mobile data come down, I don’t think this will be as hot, but with so many of these iPhones likely to be out there, mobile data rates should go down, but that hasn’t happened yet with the Blackberry Pearl, so I’m not holding my breath, but then again it’s Apple – a different beast than RIM. Even if they don’t there is the WiFi connection that will connect into the Apple TV or anything else (Skype ) and then the data rates might be a mute point, especially with all the free wireless out there. This might even beat Nokia to the punch if it can do the GSM/WiFi handoff trick.
Convergence or ubiquitous computing seems like it’s going to emerge through entertainment and communication – the iPhone lets people keep in touch and at the same time remember those they care about with photos, Apple TV (or XBox 360) allow people to manage their considerable photo, video and music collections from the place where people congregate and not the den/office. What this suggest to me is that the organization and processing is largely a solitary pursuit and it’s not likely to emerge from the back rooms any time soon (though those rooms will become less dungeon like). But the enjoyment of products from that toil are shared with everyone, even easier now with the new Airport Extreme that supports network drives.
So having said all of that, what about the current heavyweight in the living room? XBox 360 has a leg up there, but its primary function for many is just a video game console. So what about the others like the Wii (which I was quoted as saying will likely win out in 2007)? I’m thinking that just as where the strength of the Apple TV and 360 are their connection to networked computers, the massive advantage of the Wii and other devices that support removable memory is just that – you can take your SD card like the slide carousel of old – and go to your friend’s place and show your pics in their TV or their photo frame (which people are just now warming up to thanks to dropping prices).
In the end, I think we’ll have two steams for ubiquity – the low investment stream where people just take their pictures and drop it onto a card that is played by various devices all over (I’m sure many of us have seen or overheard people stocking up on memory for a trip because they don’t want to erase pictures because it’s too hard to do) and a second stream that is based off the computer that, while limited to the home of the slightly more tech savvy, will be much smaller in size because of the increased investment of time and money required.
Now if Apple can just get the movies studios to allow “registered” DVD owners to rip or download iTunes friendly copies of their exisiting DVDs to their computers… that would just be great. After all, they did get Yahoo and Google to be in the same keynote and on the same device (I’m just sad that it’s not push from gmail). Finally where are the ’07 iApps/Suites?