Apple on the living room attack; Sonos CEO: ‘the shot heard round the world for home-audio business’

Yesterday’s announcements of the iPod Hi-Fi and two new versions of the Mac mini by Apple CEO Steve Jobs “aren’t world-changers, [but] they represent important steps in Apple’s move into the digital living room. Maybe the most important new feature is the inclusion of Apple’s Bonjour wireless networking technology in the Front Row software that will now come standard on the new iMac minis. While Front Row lets Mac owners play music or view movies or photographs while sitting on the couch with the help of Apple’s tiny remote, Bonjour lets them play content that is not only on their hard drives, but also on any other PCs in the house — whether it’s the desktop model with the huge hard drive in the den, or the laptop full of obscure tunes your neighbor brings by,” Peter Burrows writes for BusinessWeek.

“Apple has indeed stepped lightly, even as Microsoft and partners dumped gazillions into creating products designed to do many of the same tasks. But Apple’s latest devices leave no doubt whether Apple is on the attack — or that the immediate target is home audio. For all the hoopla over the iPod and iTunes in the past four years, it’s almost all been focused on how to listen to music through mediocre PC speakers or via earbuds — but not in PC-less rooms of the house,” Burrows writes. “Now, that’s changing. ‘This will go down as the shot heard round the world for the home-audio business,’ says Tom Cullen, CEO of Sonus Networks, a startup that’s been making digital home audio gear for the past few years. ‘Everyone at Bose, Denon, Harmon has got to be wondering what this means for them.’ Indeed, the latest update of Apple’s iTunes software gives users the ability to wirelessly stream music up to three different stereos or powered speakers, suggesting that it wants to create easy multi-room sound systems that few conventional stereo setups can match.”

“This is just Apple’s first shot at an audio-hardware product, and Apple most likely learned a great deal about acoustical engineering and speaker design in the process. Asked if Apple had relied on outside companies for any of the product development, iPod division chief Jon Rubinstein said it was ‘designed entirely by Apple,'” Burrows writes. “All that may not be a big deal right now, but it’s ultimately bad news for rivals such as Microsoft that want to knock Apple off its perch in digital music. And it will have a lasting impact on the raft of new home electronics players that will have to contend with — as well as partner with — Jobs & Co. in the years to come.”

Full article here.

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Related MacDailyNews articles:
Apple’s new Mac mini: perfect for HDTV – March 01, 2006
Videos of Steve Jobs introducing Mac mini, iPod Hi-Fi – March 01, 2006
Analyst: Apple’s new Mac mini ‘a good first step into the living room’ – February 28, 2006
Old Apple Mac mini G4 vs. new Mac mini’s graphics and video specs – February 28, 2006
Apple introduces new Intel-based Mac mini – February 28, 2006

32 Comments

  1. They designed the Hi-Fi in-house? That is surprising to me. I figured they were targeting the digital media hosting and management markets, not the output markets. I mean, they do make stand-alone monitors, which probably helps them while engineering the all-in-one PC form-factors such as the current iMac, but this article seems to hint that they took on the hi-fi project so they could gain experience designing audio output equipment. What’s the plan? A 40″ plasma iMac TV with built in speakers?

  2. With an ARMY of aftermarket iPod accessories, it is a big step for Apple to take on this stuff in house.

    First the iPod radio enhancement that updates the iPod with a new onscreen menu system, now the Hi-Fi that adds “speaker” to the menu.

    Apple is dipping it’s toe in the $1B market and finding that it likes the water.

  3. What you will get is this..

    A REALLY BIG iMAC with Plasma.. that has a built-in Intel Core Solo or Core-Duo Processor (running mac os x) with a TV-tuner card etc; bluetooth, firewire, blah blah..

    Component Audio Out, etc… on the screen itself; with a small camera on top (a slightly larger version of the ichat).

    With bluetooth keyboard; you can switch between the TV/Video to your computer in no time!

    No need for DVD, because you might get video program streamed to you.

  4. Looks like ‘PALM’ has gone up way to high, this stock might be a bubble. It been up like $10 since couple of months ago.

    Apple (APPL) might bounce back to $70+, yesterday’s sell off was due to daytraders who were only in it for a quick profit and they were dissapointed with the news from apple.

    Earthlink ( ELNK ) seems to have resisted staying under $10, it is likely this stock is headed back to $11+

  5. What it means?
    It means that Apple is a potential new competitor in this realm; slowly creating a veritical monopoly like Andrew Carnegie.
    This is a wake up call for everybody in the home stereo business.

    Also, don’t forget, the Mac Zealots panned the iPod when it first came out.

  6. It is all about building the architecture to capture the heart of home entertainment. I’ll bet we will see more pieces coming out on a regular basis, including those from other vendors who have to get compatible with Apple to get part of the market — see the Sony thread a few stories below this one. And this dynamic can — and I sure hope will — lock in Apple and lock out the competition for leadership and standard setter for the new home electronics/home entertainment market.

    And it will actually be a broader win than that, since the architecture also includes mobile electronics/entertainment.

    I am really pumped about the prospective value of my Apple stock a few years out. This is fun.

  7. “the other Mark”

    You got that right. Boy, there was a virtual riot on all the boards. iPods?? WTF?? What is this?? Are they Stupid?? ..and these were the milder comments.

    Having seen the CNet videos these are moves that fit into a larger plan. Mac mini in the living room, boom boxes in each room connected to Airport Express (everyone wishes that WiFi was built into the boom box, but it must have been a cost issue).

    The Sonos guy is exactly right. The audio accessory makers just got the wake up call.

    MW: himself. Steve just didn’t look himself. Hope he is well.

  8. “Also, don’t forget, the Mac Zealots panned the iPod when it first came out.”

    I remember that too. On many forums the choruses of ‘big deal’ were heard.
    It wasn’t just a few people, it was overwhelming.

    But, I guess thats why they are forum posters and not CEOs

    mw ‘control’ as in widget

  9. “Also, don’t forget, the Mac Zealots panned the iPod when it first came out.”

    I remember that too.

    I also remember when iTMS came out a lot of Mac Zealots were unimpressed.

    Me, I think Apple is on the exact right track to put a Mac mini alongside 50% of the HD TVs out there. I know mine is getting one when I get the cash. It may take a few years, but I think it’s a very distinct possibility…

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