Friday, September 15, 2006

The Apple philosophy?

Update: Released as the Apple TV in Jan 2007

I've already talked about the iTV and at the time I was confused as to why it didn't come with DVR functionality. However a comment attached to an unrelated post on Read/Write Web which talked about the possibility of an Apple releasing a Network-Attached Storage device being a good idea for various reasons, including Time Machine and the iTV, set me thinking.

With 802.11n on the horizon, and the iTV probably delayed waiting for the standard to solidify a bit, I can see a number of small single function boxes being a big win for Apple.

For instance the iTV could automatically use Bonjour to look for other Apple compatible products, it finds you Macbook and adds the advertised iTunes library to its play list. Your laptop might be sitting in your office upstairs, but your music, videos and movies are available on the TV in your living room.

But what if it also found your Apple NAS box? The NAS box has your movie collection which you ripped from DVD. Now that's available on your TV as well. Then maybe it also finds your Apple DVR, which has already found your Apple NAS, and is using that for storage, and now all your favourite shows are available on your TV.

Maybe the iTV is meant as the centre of a network of single function devices that will wrap themselves around all your media content. Simple, single function devices, that advertise themselves over a self-organising 802.11n network, that "just works" out of the box. No set up, no fuss, just Apple goodness...

The UNIX philosophy has always been for programs to do one thing, and one thing well. Maybe technology has advanced to the point where this works, once again, for hardware. After all, the iPod follows this philosophy, it doesn't have an FM tuner, or many of the other features of its competitors, yet it continues to outsell them.

You have to ask yourself why, and maybe this is why. Consumers don't want convergence devices, they want their widget to do the job they ask it to do. Maybe Apple acquired something else with the move to OS X, maybe they acquired a UNIX view of the world, and maybe Bonjour, and 802.11n, is the equivalent of pipe?

If Apple ever genuinely had any plans to produce an iPhone, I think they've probably shelved them, there is just no way any phone hardware they release now could possibly measure up to the iPhone rumours that have been floating around for so long. So maybe this is the way out?