Lots of buzz in Macland today as Apple gets ready for its big show: We’ll find out just what it is starting in about an hour or so.
Once again, the obvious bet is an iPod enabled cell phone. Since nothing has toppled the iPod yet, I suspect Apple has correctly figured out that they are more likely to get cannablilized by non-MP3 devices than pure MP3 players: It won’t be the Zune that dethrones them, but rather a combination of Treos, Blackberrys, and (LG) Chocolates that slowly eats into their market share.
So instead of letting the competition hurt them, Apple could cannabilize themselves. That remains the likely bet, with both a direct PC/Mac connection to as well as over-the-air downloads as integral. Will a Zune-like sharing feature be included? Considering how useless the RIAA has made this potentially neat feature, its hard to see Apple even bothering.
Other buzzworthy bets? The touchscreen iPod is the next most likely, followed by a set top box of some sort, and maybe a sooner-than-expected Leopard (OS 10.5) upgrade.
For my money, I think they have more intriguing items in the queue. The September 2006 opre-announcement of iTV — streaming movies from your PC to your TV — makes it unlikely that my fantasy device will be rolled out this Macworld. But let’s indulge our imaginations a bit: What might be more intriguing than a cell phone? What will rock the digital media world is a functional (ie, non-crashing) combination of big screen PC/DVR/DVD.
Here’s what I want: a robust and truly functional iTV built into a 50 or 60" version of an iMac. Bring this in so it only costs marginally more than other flat screens — figure $3500. Then, build in all of the Front Row software controls into a full function remote control — TV, DVD, music, etc. Oh, and build in a TiVo for that matter (other DVRs don’t cut it).
But this could be more than an interactive television — there could be an eCommerce aspect to this: A smart contextual feature understands the content (i.e., reads the show description or the transcript) of the show you are watching, and, On Command, pulls up a list of relevant links — transparent text down the left side of the screen which is selectable. Since this is a PC as well as a TV, it opens up all sorts of possibilities: If you are watching a movie, you can go to IMDB and get more info, then to the iTunes Music/Film Store for the download, or to Amazon to buy the DVD. Same with music, news, TV series, etc.
That gets Apple into the coveted digital living room, makes convergence a reality, oh, and opens up an entire new stream of revenue for the company.
Live blogging of MacWorld is here: MacRumors Live