Active-TV Technology for iPhone and iPod touch

Active-TV Technology for iPhone and iPod touch
Navigate YouTube

Navigate YouTube available at iTunes App Sore

An easy to use iPhone and iPod touch App that enables both new and advanced YouTube users to get the best from YouTube.

Browse video Standard Feeds, Categories, Channels and Playlists. Then organize new videos into your own favorites and playlists. Make playlists private or public. Subscribe to other user's playlists and video collections for future viewing. Subscribe to videos matching search-words.

Look at publicly viewable favorite videos, playlists and subscriptions based on your YouTube friends, family and contacts. Send and receive video links with YouTube contacts via YouTube video messages.

Search for new videos tagged for your language or geographical region, using local keyboard. Explore for new videos via easy switching of user ID to the owner of interesting videos - then explore their world.

All actions are kept in sync with PC, Mac or Apple-TV access to YouTube. Available at Apple App Store.

active-TV technology for PC

active-TV technology for PC
Windows PC based home network

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Apple Pod or Mac-Mini ?

Active-TV Ecosystem Developers

There are many rumors about an Apple platform announcement in January. Speculating about this platform is an interesting process, as it may give us insight applicable to our own Extended-Notebook strategy. In this email, I am calling it “the-new-box” from Apple.

Most reporters talk about a new living room Mac-mini. I think consumers understand Mac to be a PC brand with the OS-X operating system. This would indicate they expect a keyboard and mouse to be attached to this new Mac – so they can run all the Mac applications. If this is what the-new-box looks like, then it is not very new.

Since it is in the living room it has to support the 10’ Front Row UI. Including the usual 2’ UI means it is a hybrid Mac-PC, just like the current Modern Living iMac. This is not very interesting – just an Apple variant of the Microsoft Media Center idea.

No doubt Apple would also like to get the BOM (cost) for the-new-box down – making it more profitable. Lowering the cost of a Hybrid-PC has disadvantages; it makes the 10’ features more affordable, but it can undermine traditional 2’ platform business. If a hybrid Media Center like PC costs less than a PC, then why buy a PC – buy the hybrid and only use the 2’ operation.

Apple (and the user) only need the 10’ Front Row UI at the living room location. Dedicating the platform to 10’ operation has many benefits: it lowers the BOM; it reduces support and maintenance issues; it reduces processor requirements as well as heat and noise; it focuses the value-proposition to the end user; it prevents undermining other 2’-only platforms; it may simplify set-up and installation; it may appear to be more secure regarding content protection; finally and most importantly, it better enables support for Apple notebooks.

For these reason I think of the-new-box is not a Mac but a Pod. Currently, users think of Pods supporting dedicate photo and music access. The AirportExpress is a kind of Pod – it’s a peripheral to an iMac. The AirportExpress does not have a UI, but if the Front Row UI was added, then I think Apple would call it Pod-like rather than iMac-like.

Other things we can expect are a high-def video-out and the Front Row UI being controlled by Apple’s new 10’ remote – with the spinning pod-wheel. [The UI, including the remote, is part of the brand.] No doubt surround sound will complete the high-quality entertainment nature of the-new-box. Some say an iPod dock-connector will be built-in.

However, I don’t think the-new-box will be a DMA or Extender – these ideas have not met with market acceptance. Apple will likely build the-new-box support into some already understood appliance – the most likely being a broadcast-enabled STB. Maybe the STB will support analog Tivo-like recording – but the quality of this approach does not fit with high-def or Apple-quality expectations. They could solve this problem by building high-def ATSC TV support into the-new-box.

The-new-box CPU is from Intel. This limits the prospects for embedded CA (Conditional Access) appearing in the box. They could add CableCard to support cable TV access – but I guess not.

I am drawing a picture of the-new-box not being a second computer, but having more standalone capability than an Extender or DMA. As suggested, adding broadcast reception helps achieve this. The future direction for the high-end STB is to add IP-TV support – some form of IP-TV support seems certain for the-new-box. So, the-new-box is not a Mac, not a second computer, but likely a dedicated 10’ hybrid-STB with networking to an Apple iBook or iMac.

Since Front Row support requirements are less than Media Center applications, maybe Front Row can be supported by the-new-box acting alone. That is unlike the Extended-Notebook approach - Front Row would be available even if the supporting notebook was not turned on – hence not projecting the 10’ UI over the network. Unlike most PC suppliers, Apple can make money from the-new-box as well as the iBook.

To extend the standalone nature of the-new-box, Apple could build upon its iDisk Service. Allowing the-new-box to access all the users’ content and paid-to-view movies from the iDisk. A broadband connection is required to support IP-TV, why not also use it to generate a monthly fee from iDisk services – why buy a NAS when there is iDisk!. The approach makes the-new-box more standalone and may offer higher security for paid-to-view movies.

[iDisk is a service offered by Apple to all .Mac members so that they may store their digital photos, movies or personal files online. Currently, .Mac users get a total storage amount of 1GB for email and iDisk storage. iDisk appears as network drive mounted automatically. Mac OS-X allow users to use their iDisk when offline, and synchronize with it when they go online. ]

Content distribution via an IP-TV and iDisk approach would still have to give access to more than just Hollywood content. It would be much better to support long-tail content which is unique and not available by any other method.

Would the-new-box work with ViiV? I think to the extent that they are both based on UPnP, there would be some interoperability. This would also be true for a Windows XP Home PC which supports Windows Media Connect (WMC – also based on UPnP).

Since 2’ operation is not in the-new-box, there would have to be networking to an iBook (or iMac). Activities which are 2’, such as photo editing, library management, content creation or reformatting, would remain 2’ and not be directly supported in the dedicated 10’-only new-box. With home networking, content and anything else, could be freely moved between the-new-box, an iBook and iDisk.

This is all speculation. I hope the debate is useful even if the predictions are all wrong. Comments corrections and feedback welcome.


Johnny Fuery said...

I'd like to talk to you about joining the Beyond The Pod affiliate program. We buy iPods from consumers, and your gadget-oriented blog seems like a good fit.

The payout is $2 per lead, so it should be lucrative for you as your traffic grows.

Feel free to contact me directly or read the affiliate program details.

Look forward to hearing from you.

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