Apple’s Platform – Hardware, Everywhere!
As rumors of the updated AppleTV are fueled by reports of a new refresh on the way, it dawned on me that the Apple hardware platform is nearly complete. There are few companies that can claim to have such a dominant, all encompassing platform that will reach into every aspect of your personal life. As it stands now the Mac is the base that is the center of your computing needs; it is a holdover from the past that is evolving to meet the needs of a connected world and will probably at some point merge with the new, mobile platform we find in the iPad. These devices cover the creation and consumption of media in an office and anywhere else really. But there are niches where these platforms can’t extend. The iPhone is the beginning of this bridge, an always connected, powered on, and always with you device that you can be used for limited (but ever expanding) content creation methods and is perfect for consumption of media on the go. These products alone encompass a huge portion of our lives and with the addition to the M5 chip in the iPhone, signal how serious Apple is about the future. That much is obvious. It is the push to the automotive, home entertainment, and personal health tracking that opens Apple to these niches they don’t have a solid reach into.
Automotive is the most obvious one that Apple can improve. At this point I’m surprised the auto manufacturers don’t just have a slot to slide your iPhone into for all your in car needs. Car interfaces suck and seriously can’t get any worse (this post clearly illustrates). Apple’s integration will only improve this space and there needs to be more. While your computing needs will be different in a car we still rely (and yes, I am completely at the whim of GPS navigating Birmingham) on things like GPS or entertainment in the form of streamed or downloaded content. And this gives Apple a foothold to deliver via it’s hardware platform, in a place some of us spend quite some time in each day.
The signs point to Apple working on some form of personal health-tracking wearable at some point. It’s also the hardest one for me to swallow as something Apple would really be interested in doing. I don’t doubt that it will come out at some point but it didn’t make sense until I framed it as part of the platform. It’s another way to deliver services to you wherever and whenever you want them. What I’m still not sure of is what service they have in mind at this point. I’m not sure that Apple has anything to provide your wrist that can’t be better delivered to you via the iPhone as of yet and it will be extremely interesting to see what they are able to deliver there. I think we haven’t heard the full story on what to expect out of the iWatch.
I’ve already written about my hopes for the future (hopefully gaming orientated) AppleTV. I’m sure that Apple could disrupt the entire home entertainment center by offering an AppleTV with better graphics built and and a little more storage, allowing for apps and gaming into the living room. While the AppleTV already does iTunes and other things in the living room well, these small changes in the hardware would drastically change the current state of affairs. Franchises as big as Call of Duty would be hard pressed at this point to convince me to pony up $60 for their newest title (along with a $50 “season pass” for bonus content) when I could download something akin to Modern Combat that gives a similar experience and for (at least in the iPad App Store) $8. If Nintendo thinks they have problems competing now, just wait. Microsoft and Sony would also be forced to pivot and compete on price and delivery. People have no qualms trusting Apple with their credit card, Sony will have to rebuild that trust, and Microsoft is the unknown factor. Microsoft tried to do a console that could deliver great content without physical media, they just got bogged down with DRM red tape. Apple doesn’t have that same problem; everyone knows how to buy Apps, this would just be an extension of this process.
Tim Cook has been saying we would be seeing some big things from Apple this year, (he said that all year last year but most didn’t have their hair blown back then) and I would like to think this is the year they come through on that promise. Once they have the platform in place there are so many other things that could be taken to task. The dream (or maybe my own) of video FaceTime calling from your living room. Or taking on a consumer home automation platform that works with a central AppleTV at the helm, synchronized through iCloud. Or something else entirely. That’s what makes Apple so interesting to analyze from the outside, it is JJ Abrams “Mystery Box” in the tech industry. And it keeps on delivering surprises!