Apple’s announcements yesterday were largely non-starters, doing what smart consumer companies do – prepare the market and media for the holiday season with lower prices, even more bang for the buck and more choices for the mainstream consumer market. There’s plenty of media coverage on the announcements, but the only other news of note was regarding movie downloads. Om Malik has one of the better thought pieces comparing Steve Jobs to Bill Gates, tagging Steve Jobs to possibly be Bill Gates 2.0. With only 75 movies available immediately and the same DRM as iTunes music downloads, I’m not sure there’s much to report on movie downloads either. Like I’ve said before, it might be a mover in the future, but it’s not a huge announcement and certainly one that was expected.The real announcement came with the purported iTV, which is only a temporary name. But I think the real breakthrough that will come through next year is that this new box, expected before April 2007, will not really be just about television, but about total convergence. As such, I would expect that the new box will have a more universal name – maybe iHome?
With WiFi and AirPort Express, there’s a lot of cool things happening tying the home together. You’ll see home automation become easier. With Slingboxes, Windows Media Centers, XBox 360, Playstation 3, Apple HiFi (speaker systems) and on and on, there are lots of devices with total convergence potential, but largely unfulfilled. Slingbox hasn’t taken off and XBox/Playstation/Windows aren’t terribly popular as primary media centers.
Apple has hinted that the price of the new device will be around $299, similar to iPod pricing. That’s a mainstream price, but probably won’t pack enough juice to be a central device. No, instead I believe that Apple’s next big will be tying the home together. Just like middle class families have multiple iPods, maybe one for each child and parent or more, it’s much more reasonable to think about total connectivity and convergence in bite-sized pieces.
Just as has happened in the past, prices will likely fall and the market will grow larger. Apple is THE company to get this right and then dominate it – imagine streaming your music, photos, video and other media anywhere in your house you want.
But that’s enough for now – these are just thoughts. Let’s see if I’m right next year.