“Most Apple watchers are spending their time gaping at the current runaway success of the company and speculating about what the company’s Next Big Thing might be. The current odds seem to be on the much-rumored iPhone finally debuting–albeit first in Japan (see related story). But some coy remarks dropped by Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the annual shareholders’ meeting in April, coupled with a column in early May by the Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg–who boldly asserted that an Apple media hub will be finally forthcoming–caused the buzz about an Apple-dominated living room to ramp up to a full throttle,” Alice LaPlante reports for InformationWeek. “‘It’s fairly easy to see where Apple is going,’ says Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co. ‘The home is the next major battleground between a diverse set of players–whether they are PC companies or consumer electronics firms–and Apple intends to be a aggressive participant.'”

“Ease of use is the primary issue: consumers can’t be bothered with worrying about interfaces and complicated cables and instructions. ‘It has to be as easy to use and as reliable as a toaster,’ says Munster,” LaPlante reports. ‘Most people are very dissatisfied with the current offerings, and for that reason would welcome Apple’s contribution,’ says John Gruber, a prominent Apple blogger who runs the Web site Flaming Fireball.”

MacDailyNews Note: Gruber’s site is Daring Fireball: http://daringfireball.net/ (highly recommended)

LaPlante continues, “Apple is definitely behind the pack when it comes to announcing its intentions. The company has yet to define a comprehensive vision for the digital home, and so Apple watchers are–once again–forced to read between the lines. (At the company’s annual meeting, when told by a shareholder that everyone was eagerly awaiting the ‘ultimate media center,’ Jobs replied only ‘we hear you loud and clear.’)”

LaPlante reports, “Still, analysts say that the pieces are falling into place. With the introduction of the Intel-based Mac Mini in early 2006, Apple finally had a viable digital media server (the Mac Mini) that worked with a long-distance interface (Front Row), and a wireless network (AirPort). The major functionality missing at this point is the ability to directly view and record live television, according to Tim Deal, a senior analyst with Technology Business Research. ‘You can get that from third parties, but Apple needs it to complete its own portfolio,’ says Deal.”

“Some Apple watchers believe that Apple will introduce an IP/video set-top box that will bring the Internet and video downloads directly to the TV. Josh Bernoff, an analyst at Forrester Research, has predicted just that. He expects that current and future Apple technology will cumulate in a device he calls “AppleVision,” which will include digital video recording (DVR) capabilities that would make it an effective Tivo killer,” LaPlante reports.

“Indeed, many people are betting against the PC as the hub of the digital living room. It’s simply not reliably enough, for starters. In addition to all the other complexity, you’ve got ‘blue screens of death,’ viruses, and other malware that creeps in when PCs get involved in the hardware and software mix, says Phillip Swann, president of TVPredictions.com. ‘PC-based entertainment systems have a limited appeal, and will never reach the mainstream,’ declares Swann. ‘They are too complicated and confusing and designed with excessive features.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Everything we’re ever read from “Swanni” regarding Apple is complete nonsense (see related articles below). This is no exception. The obviously Windows-only “Swanni” doesn’t know that Macs don’t BSOD, have no viruses, etc. Microsoft Windows is too complicated and confusing and designed with excessive features. Apple does things different(ly).

LaPlante continues, “An end-to-end solution works when content choice isn’t an issue, points out Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research. The Mac failed largely because consumers wanted choices in their PC hardware and software.”

MacDailyNews Take: The Mac did not fail. 99% of people using a personal computer today use a real Mac or an upside-down and backwards Mac derivative (Windows.) Consumers in the early days of personal computing (and still today) bought Windows because they lacked the knowledge to make an informed choice. Choosing solely by lowest sticker price is not a smart way to buy a personal computer. People today still buy Windows simply because their friends buy Windows and their workplace uses Windows. They’re not “choosing” Windows, they just don’t know any better. In fact, people who actually use both Mac and Windows overwhelmingly choose Mac.

LaPlante continues, “Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester, adds that Apple has ‘defied conventional wisdom’ in all sorts of ways and will probably continue to do so. ‘The main thing is that Apple listens to its customers. It has the voice of the consumer in mind, and it designs for that buyer, and as the only computer company that does that, that makes it unique.'”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Does Apple face delivery issue if they want to sell movies via iTunes Store? – June 28, 2006
TV analyst says Apple’s video-capable iPod is a bust because he says so – May 03, 2006
Notes from Apple shareholders’ meeting: ‘exciting’ TV ad campaign to launch next week – April 27, 2006
TV analyst blows it, says Apple’s 12 million video downloads ‘a big disappointment’ – February 08, 2006
If Front Row can stream movie trailers from Apple, why not whole movies? – January 06, 2006
TV analyst’s uninformed prediction: ‘video iPod will be Steve Jobs’ folly’ – October 12, 2005