Steve Jobs blows it. Again.

Sigh.  There’s nothing more frustrating than watching Apple come so close to finally tying the knot, only to leave threads dangling.  

I speak, of course, of yesterday’s Let’s Rock event where the apparently-not-dead (but much gaunter-looking) Steve Jobs talked at length about iTunes and iPods. And they played Jack Johnson, who is somehow the most popular male performer on iTunes to this point in history. (Yeah, I don’t get that either. Don’t get me wrong, Jack, you’re a great performer — just didn’t see that coming.)  

But why — oh why! — does Apple have to continually deny us a complete entertainment experience?  

I blogged about the iPhone shortly after its launch (well, I’d written the blog entry, just took a couple of months to get posted — long story) about how I felt that Apple had missed a killer opportunity. Like, as in a killing-the-competition-kind-of-killer.  

I still feel that way. It’s been over a year and a half, now. And still, Apple plain refuses to pick up that ball.  

Let’s review. Apple has the following in their product and service lines:

  • iTunes: a massive database of media (music, video, podcast) that now includes HD video and the ability to get movies without leaving your house
  • Powerful computers (with ample disk space) to store your collected content from iTunes, and serve it out to…
  • Apple TV (version 2; version 1 was a dud), which serves beautifully as a device to put your iTunes-served content onto your 50″ HD television. (It’s even kept under the iTunes section on the website, for crying out loud!)
  • Mac Mini, which could serve as a node on an internal network to receive content from a central server and sent to Apple TV, providing additional functionality (such as web browsing — can you say “interactive television”?)
  • AirPort Extreme (Wi-Fi, which I’m getting to)
  • Front Row, which allows easy access to any of your content through a simple remote (which is the way it should be — one device, not 10). And for the love of all things geeky, amp this up, will ya? You downplay it too much. It’s slick. It’s nice — give it more presence!
  • And of course, the iPhone and iPod Touch, both Wi-Fi internet-capable devices that sync with iTunes

So, Steve, where is my home entertainment environment?  

You’ve got all the pieces. They’re right there. Sure, with enough work I could figure it out on my own — it’s not that hard. But you’re missing a killer market here. You’re an experience-based company, for Pete’s sake! You know all about experience, because that’s what you sell.

Apple makes hardware and software. Big frickin’ deal — so do all of your competitors. But you spent the time to make them work well, and in a way that users don’t just love, you turn them into rabid fanboys. (Sorry, Microsoft, but your fanboys don’t come close.)

And while you’re at it, how hard would it be to make an app for the iPhone / iPod Touch that would allow you to flip audio/video between nodes in your house? To allow you to — literally — carry a tune from your node in your kitchen to your bedroom via your Wi-fi device (iWhatever) without skipping a beat. Video, too — so my wife can continue to watch her favourite movie in bed without missing anything.  

While I’m at it, I have a couple of other requests I want to add:

  • Let me rip my DVDs into iTunes. DCMA be damned — I bought the movie, and I want to use it on my devices. There is no reasonable explanation for why I shouldn’t be able to do this.  
  • 50″ Cinema Display. People would give up vital parts of their anatomy to have one of these. Imagine how an iTunes-served movie would look on one. Just sayin’.  

C’mon, Steve. Don’t make me beg. It’s not a pretty sight.  

6 Replies to “Steve Jobs blows it. Again.”

  1. “But why – oh why! – does Apple have to continually deny us a complete entertainment experience?”

    Because it is much more profitable for a company to sell you all those part separately. Once profit margins go down you can probably expect to see ‘new’ innovative repackaging of the current tech into a complete entertainment experience. Remember. Stevie-boy is business-man first, techno geek second.

  2. Ed, totally agreed! I fully EXPECT Steve to sell me all the individual pieces. What bothers me isn’t that he’s not selling me a complete package, but they don’t even hit that it’s possible! Sell me a “package” that allows me to easily purchase all the parts I need. But I don’t even see Apple thinking about it!

  3. Agreed. All great points. However, Apple is the pioneer of “let the customer innovate for us.” Apple understands the experience better than most companies, because they monitor and participate in the process. A package would be very nice, but they’re not there yet. That would be too closed-minded (right now) and there would be the potential for the company to miss out on a consumer-led idea. I envision that as soon as multiple devices reach critical mass inside the home (homes containing 1+ apple devices) packages will begin to surface. Its a logical next step.

  4. Very good point, Joe. Packages aren’t Apple’s shtick … yet. Though I would be curious to know what the GDA (Gross Domestic Apple) ratio would be right now.

  5. Apple blows it? So, who cares? The only Apple product that has impressed me is the iPod. It amuses me that so many out there consider Apple a religion. However, I am unsure as to why, having supported Macs for years.

  6. I care about progress. I care about innovation. I ain’t seeing it from any other vendor, so when I see innovation stalled/muffled for no apparent good reason (despite an obvious avenue), it bothers me.

    That said, Phantom, you’re totally right. It’s a dumb thing to care about. But maybe — just maybe — I care too much!

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