Apple Missed A Chance to Kill Amazon, Sony, and Microsoft (in the living room)

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I was really disappointed by Apple’s iPad announcement today. I used to think of Apple as a company that could get the hardware AND the software right with world changing products. The reality is that while they may be able to address some of this in future updates, they missed a prime opportunity to establish themselves as they de facto IP content provider to the living room.

My complaint really isn’t with the hardware specs of the iPad. The 10 hour battery life is a win, though I worry that in practice that battery life imposed 1/2″ thickness will be too bulky for some people to want to carry comfortably. If I have a big hardware issue its that by not including a camera they are missing a huge opportunity to encourage both video conferencing and augmented reality applications. It’s also still disappointing that the company that brought us Mac OS X can’t seem to address multi-tasking in a 64 GB device.

Where I think Apple could have completely changed the game and blown their sales numbers away was if they had included a new kind of media management and playback software.

Imagine a world where your primary starting point for media consumption a tablet like the iPad. This device has software to recognize the Mac Mini or Apple TV connected to the TVs in the house. It recognizes the iPhones that have been associated with it and are on the same wifi network. No image that instead of just reading a book or watching a video clip on the tablet you could, with a gesture, “flip” a video to start playing on the nearest TV. You could do the same with radio, podcasts or photo albums. Instead of having to configure devices via a 10 foot UI & 4 way remote (up/down/left/right) you could do it via gestures on the tablet.

Now imagine you could do that with any Apple iTunes movie rental, or purchased movie or TV show, or album.

Because of Apple’s position as a leading provider of digital media, both sales and rental, they are in a unique position to offer a “buy once, watch anywhere” media solution. The studios and record labels would like to see that happen, assuming the pricing can be worked out. Consumers want to see it happen. We’re tired of having to buy a favorite movie over and over just to get to see it whenever and wherever we want.

The right software on the Apple iPad could have created the central point around which Apple would have solidified it’s leadership in digital media services. However Apple (like Sony) isn’t a service company. They want to sell devices and they will sell thousands (if not millions) of the iPad as is.

They just won’t sell one to me. Yet.

5 thoughts on “Apple Missed A Chance to Kill Amazon, Sony, and Microsoft (in the living room)

  1. Steve, great post. It feels like this is a rev 1 product, lacking key features/necessities. As it stands, it’s a more dynamic kindle killer– ho hum. But knowing Apple’s penchant for versioning, my bet is on a robust roadmap of improvements ahead.

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  2. It’s certainly a “rev 1” product. They have the opportunity to address the software issue and if they don’t there’s going to be a number of startups poised to jump in the void Apple’s left.

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  3. Totally agree. I want something to be the easy interaction of my media center. A mac mini hooked into my tv interfacing with a solid device. As an E-Reader with no multi tasking…I want to read with some low key music in the background.

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  4. I’m still impressed at $500. I agree the best may be yet to come – think Apple TV – the first version wasn’t that interesting but the upgrades brought it to life (and our living room).

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  5. I completely agree. I can’t remember the last time (if ever) I was left feeling completely underwhelmed by a Jobs keynote. There have always been — guaranteed — at least one or two moments in every past keynote where Jobs elicits a gasp from the audience, then major applause. There was nothing here. It was also weird how they pandered to the audience, explaining how incredible the iPad is, almost as though they forgot they already taught us all of this stuff in 2007. (THAT was a great keynote. I wanted an iPhone immediately.) I wondered how Jobs and Forstall (but not Schiller, because he’s so cheesy) could go on gloating about this thing with straight faces. It is a big ‘so what’.So, while I’m disappointed, I’m thinking there was WAY more planned for this device (and as evidenced by all those patent filings which seem relevant). Except for the lack of a camera, I can see all of the media features coming soon, as well as multitaksing. Then this will be something compelling enough to make me want to open my wallet.

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