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Apple told the Future in the Past!


I was listening to a recent netcast, probably MacBreak Weekly #214 or Windows Weekly #176, and they were discussing the USB port on the back of the Apple TV.  I really started to think about that port and and the iTunes software.  I also felt that my iTunes Server could be met with Apple activating that port for external hard drives.  This could make the Apple TV an iTunes Server IF they add the ability to manage Accounts, Purchase Content, and allow iTunes to act as the intermediary.  Personal Profiles would allow one iTunes Account to manage multiple users (or device profiles) with Bonjour running Apple could enable Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Syncing.  This would solve the iTunes Server issue mentioned below.

I have noticed that a few videos and articles have surfaced over the last [thinking] 3 years and they are all pointing to the future of where Apple said it was going in the 80’s.  The Newton was their first attempt at a mobile product that would fill the space of the ‘hand-held communicator’ or Dynabook that was talked about by Alan Kay.  In my recent post, the video shared by TUAW, talks about being able to stream media on the fly.  To have total access to your books, music, movies, and documents no matter where an individual is located … they only need access to the internet.

Today we have 2 ubiquitous internet devices from Apple, the iPad and iPhone.  These two devices deliver the majority of the internet to you on the go.  We know that we can buy, rent, listen, and watch content as long as we are connected to the internet.  Yeah for 3G and GSM!!!  We now know that Apple is working on “The Orchard” a large data center in North Carolina.  Apple has now released the updated Apple TV that delivers all of your iTunes content to your TV plus NetFlix and hopefully much more as they continue to work on this platform.  I have heard some discussion for the Apple TV where we can push Hulu, MLB, or even games to our living room or bedroom TVs via AirPlay (or Apps).

With Apple rolling Apple TV and AirPlay out to their 160 million registered iTunes customers they have an instant [upon purchase] test bed.  To play with and work through all the bugs and legal issues.  They have a willing audience of “Fan Boys” that have already ordered their new Apple TV‘s.  They have users like me that will be purchasing one after they start shipping.

Now, what is missing?  One huge thing I think is missing is an iTunes server.  Yeah, I know that HP’s MediaSmart running Windows Home Server with the plug-in will act in this fashion.  What I am looking for is … think a Mac Mini Server form factor that we can add external hard drives to for increased capacity!  [The one extra cool feature would be that we could add more iTunes Servers and they would span the network.  I am thinking of a Drobo + AirPort Wireless Network Extender + SAN.]  We could stream right from that instead of from the family iMac.  It would function as the iTunes back-up for the whole family, accounts for each user.  This would then be coupled with “The Orchard” so that we have 3 copies of our media and we can then stream anything we own to anywhere! Now hold on and don’t forget that Apple purchased Lala.com and they had a really good balance of being able to push music that you already own for 10¢ each track and the ability to buy new music.

So,  if I have a DVD or digital copy of a movie, then I have to pay the 30¢ licensing fee and Apple drops a copy in my Orchard account.  Then if something happens to our Mac we have a copy of everything in the “Cloud”.  The way I see this service really being delivered is via MobileMe.  I am not sure if it would be 99$ still or if it would be free.  I think that free would ‘force’ people to move their content there because there is no barrier to entry.  I know that I would start right away.  I know that it would cost me; but if I could have the guarantee … I would be compelled to do it right away.  We have 2 Macs and 2 iPhones and it would be a no brainer for my wife and I to jump on that right away.

It is very clear to my mind what this will look like and how it will work.  Unfortunately, I don’t actually know and if I did, I wouldn’t be able to write this.

iron wil