Reading Between the Lines – A Look at the Expo Announcements

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Date: Friday, January 14th, 2005, 18:35
Category: Archive

After a few days of reading and contemplation about the new products in the Apple lineup has inspired a response to all the rants about the iPod shuffle and Mac mini. Read More…

Now that the dust has settled from the keynote and the editors have had time to sound off on why they love/hate the latest round of products, I feel it necessary to weigh in with a slightly different perspective on the release of the iPod shuffle and Mac mini.
1. Macworld is not for us anymore.
It’s not about the faithful. We’re a given. Anyone who says they’re switching to Windows because there isn’t a Powerbook G5 or 3Ghz PowerMac is welcome to do so. They obviously haven’t spent any significant amount of time in an MS environment, dealing with the constant headaches that wreak havoc on anyone trying to actually get some work done. As an IT administrator in a Windows environment I know these pains. I invite anyone considering this ‘reverse-switch’ to pick up a PC laptop and work with it for a week or two. It truly is a different world, and a horrible one at that!
With the cult status attained by the iPod, Apple has an entirely new group of consumers to consider. It’s no longer about retaning the believers. It’s about the new converts. The people who have just had their first taste of the Apple experience and how good it can be when technology works, and works well. Anyone who doesn’t understand this, fails to see the path ahead, and how important this will be to Apple’s continued growth. Macworld is no more than a press conference to maintain the mind share that Apple commands.
2. Two markets with one device.
The iPod shuffle is not just a cheap MP3 player to compete in the flash market. It’s a USB flash drive that just happens to play MP3s and work with iTunes. Why would you buy a 500MB flash drive for $70-80 when, for a few dollars more, you could get an MP3 player too. The lack of screen should be the first indicator that this is a move to attract two disparate markets with one device. If you look at similar offerings in both flash drives and flash MP3 players you will see that there are precious few that cross this line, and do it well.
3. Going beyond the desktop.
The Mac mini is another matter all together. For years media companies, cable and satellite providers, and electronics manufacturers have talked about convergence. Soon enough, the computer will move into the living room…and the kitchen…and the bedroom. The Mac mini is just the machine for this kind of move. With the excelerating spread of plasma and LCD televisions, many with DVI connections, the Mac mini is poised to jump into the media center position that Microsoft is clamoring to occupy. My first thoughts regarding the mini were how great it would be as a cetral media hub for the home. Plug it in to the TV and use it as a DVD player, jukebox, and central repository for all the media in the house. And while you’re at it, toss in internet access for the family in the living room. Oh yeah, it also comes with the best consumer applications for photos, audio and video. And has it occured to anyone else how much the mini looks like a gaming console? I don’t think this is a coincidence. Apple is pushing the computer industry directly into the home entertainment arena.
These new additions to the family are sure to make this an interesting year in the Apple universe. The wheels keep on turning, I’m just enjoying the ride.

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