Daniel Eran Dilger
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Ten Big Predictions for Apple in 2008

Daniel Eran Dilger
What’s Apple going to be up to in 2008? The previous article looked at clues from the Newton MessagePad to the iPhone. Here’s a look at the potential future of the rest of Apple’s businesses, from hardware to software to services.

MacBook Mini. Rumors suggest a thin new aluminum consumer MacBook tailored after the lines of the ultra thin new Bluetooth Keyboard. With a full resolution 13“ screen and multitouch trackpad, the unit could even do without a mechanical hard drive and optical drive reader and instead use a Flash RAM based system borrowing from the development of the iPhone and iPod Touch.

That would remove two of the largest performance bottlenecks and battery hogs. Instead of playing DVD movies, you’d play iTunes files. Built-in WiFi and support for PC Cards using UMTS or EVDO 3G cellular wireless (which many people don’t realize is already supported in Mac OS X) would make it the ultra portable for corporate mobile users who don’t want to wait around for Windows to resume or reboot.

AppleInsider Bluetooth Keyboard Review + Road to Leopard

AppleInsider Bluetooth Keyboard Review + Road to Leopard

WiFi Goodness for the iPhone. The iPhone and iPod Touch really need to use their WiFi to do some amazing stuff. No, I’m not talking about squirting DRM tracks between users, although direct file transfer, web and YouTube bookmark sharing, and photo vcard contact beaming would all be useful.

I’m thinking about the most powerful yet simple remote control ever. Apply the mobiles’ WiFi as an interactive link for devices by creating a standard specification for Bonjour-discovered wireless devices that can be commanded by the iPhone, offering a web-based graphical interface that auto-discovers and advertises itself and its features.

Command your stereo and TV using an single adaptive UI displayed on the screen. No more 500 button remotes to sort through. Bonjour would auto-register your devices with the network, and you’d only need to register your mobile with the devices in your house once. From there, your stuff would just work from your mobile. No need to point the remote at an IR receiver; it would work from anywhere in the house.

Each manufacturer could design their own simple, standard HTML interfaces (which the user could adjust to their liking) for remotely controlling their audio and video equipment, home automation gear, kitchen appliances, home security systems, and remote control toys. It wouldn’t have to involve anything proprietary to Apple’s iPhone, even if nobody else currently makes a mobile web browser that works nearly as well.

You could control everything from the same deliciously consistent widget-like interface, even involving programatic functions such as scheduling the time for the TV to turn off, or progressively dialing the lights down and the music up over time. Touching the screen would send out standard HTTP responses over WiFi to the embedded web servers in your appliances, which could be simple or sophisticated. Adding a security layer to lock control to only your iPhone would not be a technical challenge.

License the package under a brand name like Bonjour Remote Ready so consumers would look for compatible products. The price of adding an embedded web server with support for Bonjour discovery would become trivial. It is already very cheap. Judging from the web interface of current devices such as wireless routers, perhaps most manufacturers would be better off letting Apple design their interface for them as part of the licensing fee.

Software Remote Ready. Apple could first roll the idea out in software by adding a simple web server listener in Mac OS X with modules to allow third parties to advertise services to iPhone devices and interact and respond with them. That would enable input features such as remotely controlling interfaces such as FrontRow/Apple TV, or alternatively output features such as watching a streaming video new podcast, movie, music video from your iTunes library on the iPhone or similar devices.

That would make the premise of an entertainment oriented iPod Slate, described earlier, more meaningful. Think of Sony’s LocationFree, but rather than a wireless TV signal, you’d have a wireless interface to everything you can do on an iPhone, in a larger form factor: hands on web, rich media, file access, contacts, calendar, and email. Your iPhone goes in your pocket, the iPod Slate slides into your portfolio.

Both could be standalone devices or the type of magical wireless tablets dreamed up in the era of Network Computers, only to be dismissed as impractical futurism. Since Apple is at least five years ahead, it should have no problem delivering in 2008 the kind of 2013 stuff Microsoft promises in Windows 7.

Newton Rising: Is the Next iPhone Device a G3 MessagePad?

Newton Rising: Is the Next iPhone Device a G3 MessagePad?
A Brief History of Remote Display Part IV – VNC: the other thin client

Wide Area Remote Ready. Thanks to the open web, you could also stream music from your iTunes library over the web anywhere you have WiFi access. Discover your tunes without any configuration via Wide Area Bonjour in Back to My Mac. You could also pull up home photo albums or access your files, calendar, and other documents while traveling. Access Apple Remote Desktop to remotely control your home desktop.

The most interesting thing is that most of this isn’t experimental technology waiting to be developed, it’s just waiting to be advertised by Apple as a product.

A Global Upgrade for Bonjour: AirPort, iPhone, Leopard, .Mac

Interactive Gaming and Alternative Content. Apple isn’t going to rush into the profitless business of developing disposable platforms for console gaming, but with the iPhone, iPods, and Apple TV, it can offer interactive gaming and content that delivers a real market for developers and lots of options for users. Once the iPhone SDK arrives, Apple’s OS X platform will be inundated with the largest surge in developer interest ever. Imagine something bigger than pairing the Mac market with NeXT technology: visualize the opposite of the Windows Vista yawn.

Another gaming-related option Apple should consider is making an iTunes Wii channel in partnership with Nintendo. Just as you can download the Opera web browser for Wii, you should be able to download a software module that enables you to stream music from your iTunes library. The Wii could act as the composite video version of Apple TV, and since Apple makes little money on that device, selling a $5 software version to Wii users would only help make iTunes more attractive to a new set of users.

The Wii might not be able to decode and play H.264 video, but it could be an iTunes music player with visualizations and Dolby Surround sound and show off iPhoto albums. Conversely, perhaps Apple could also talk Nintendo into developing games for the Mac, iPhone, and iPods in order to reach a demographic beyond console gamers and the youth-oriented DS handheld.

The Apple Video Game Development Myth
Apple’s New Dual Processor Game Console
PlayStation 3 vs. Xbox 360 vs. Nintendo Wii

Ubiquitous AirPort WiFi. A parallel effort Apple should investigate is the creation of a volunteer WiFi network that iPhone/iPod Touch users could sign into on an optional basis. Use encrypted traffic to prevent any data security or wiretapping issues, then offer membership to anyone with an Airport Extreme base station. Roll out a firmware update for AirPort routers that enables .Mac users to login and authenticate with any participating AirPort network. Share yours, I’ll share mine and we’ll have WiFi nearly everywhere that can be securely and casually used to get Internet access when needed.

Limit accounts to reasonable bandwidth quotas so that nobody ends up noticing the extra traffic. Keep traffic both encrypted and tied to a .Mac account so that there won’t be any scandalous use by anonymous kiddie pornographers, Al Queda, or Windows botnets. It won’t solve world peace, but will make WiFi on mobile devices far more valuable, spur the deployment of ”open but not naively wide open“ WiFi, and solve the catch-22 that currently prevents WiFi from being deployed commercially or municipally.

Interestingly, Apple already leads US market share among 802.11n wireless routers according to NPD. With Ubiquitous WiFi, Apple could create a ”grassroots“ mobile WiFi network without spending $5 billion or more as Google is prepared to do in its 700 MHz bidding. Apple could even resell access to the WiFi pool to other mobile makers, or make it a feature of .Mac subscriptions, with discounts to members who add their AirPort to the network, or perhaps even rebates paid as commissions for shared traffic. That could prompt business users to throw open WiFi networks as a self-supporting altruism without raising privacy or security concerns.

This year, Airport Extreme introduced the idea of wide area Bonjour, followed up with configuration integration with Mac OS X Leopard Server. The idea of having a your desktop or laptop computer interact intelligently with your router to make sure everything ”just works“ both locally within your network and when using remote features such as Back to My Mac, Remote Desktop, or iChat teleconferencing also holds out the possibility for other examples of what Apple can do when it controls the whole widget. There’s more to be done, as the work required for Time Machine backup hosting indicates.

 Wp-Content Uploads 2007 11 Airport.006

Ten Myths of Leopard: 5 ”Back To My Mac“ Security Panic!
Why Leopard’s Time Machine Doesn’t Support AirPort Disks

Xserve mini. I outlined a plan for a personal server back in 2006. The new Mac OS X Leopard Server now delivers on the software side with an entry level setup that is nearly ready for a basic embedded server box. Create a new appliance box along the lines of an Apple TV but focused toward serving data rather than syncing media, and make it as easy to administer as the AirPort Extreme.

Or perhaps take the AirPort itself and add more services so it could handle the email, file, and web serving of a home or small office, complete with the slick shared wiki, blogging, and calendar services offered in Leopard Server.

On the pro end, Apple could add an Asterisk PBX module for office telephony and turn the phone industry upside down with a low cost solution that just works. Then sell Macs to the thousands of small offices that upgrade their phones from their existing creaky old OS/2 PBX boxes. Call it the Macintosh Office.

Xserve mini

The Xserve mini
Windows Home Server vs AirPort Extreme
Steve Jobs and 20 Years of Apple Servers
Apple’s Next Killer App

Made for Mac. Just like Apple’s ‘Made for iPod’ and ‘Made for iPhone’ licensing programs, which extort fees from accessory makers in exchange for a compatibility seal of approval, Apple needs to make a Made for Mac logo that assures compatibility with Apple’s technologies. Among them:

  • Bonjour for automatic discovery and configuration of printers, WiFi devices such as security cameras and toys, software sharing services that mimic iTunes and iPhoto, audio and video equipment, and other applications that desperately need standards-based autoconfigurability.
  • I also want to see adoption of support for Mac OS X’s Image Capture among scanners, popularized by a Made for Mac program.
  • Highlight FireWire support for digital video devices and prosumer music gear, and take another stab at establishing FireWire hard drive support by popularizing the new FW 3200 standard that is 8 times faster than standard FireWire or USB 2.0. That’s faster than eSATA, plus you can chain together devices in a bus and drives can be powered by the cable.
  • Add a Ubiquitous WiFi program for licensing third party WiFi routers, as described above.
  • Highlight QuickTime support for movies and photos under the same branding in cameras, camcorders, photo devices, and other gadgets. Associate in H.264 audio, AAC audio, PNG graphics, and PDF document support to push open, interoperable standards for media.
  • Throw in guaranteed interaction with FrontRow, Apple TV, Apple Remote, and Apple’s Advanced iPod Remote protocol. Sign up stereo and TV makers with Bonjour Ready so everything just works.
  • Add in specification branding support for Audio Units, Apple Loops, Image Units, Video Units, and Quartz Composer plugins, so that plugin technology can be reused and is widely interoperable.
  • Advertise reference Dictionary plugins and online reference works for Mac OS X Leopard under the same logo.
  • Highlight Spotlight Importers, QuickLook plugins, Dashboard Widgets, and .Mac Sync support in Made for Mac software titles.
  • Outline revised Human Interface Guidelines that apply to mobile Safari apps for the iPhone or desktop apps with a iWork/iLife interface or that are patterned after Apple’s Pro Apps.

Then police the Made for Mac program so that users can be confident that buying something with a Made for Mac logo takes full advantage of all the latest technologies. Who wants to buy a scanner from the Apple Store only to find that it comes with HP’s horrible software rather than supporting the native Image Capture?

Apple Surround. Back at WWDC 2007, I introduced the idea of a companion product for Apple TV that provided wireless surround audio. Used with Apple TV to decode surround 6.1 AAC audio from new iTunes movies for wireless playback, or used alone like an AirPort Express to channel stereo sound from iTunes throughout the house, there could be multiple options for using the same compact box with optical audio inputs, wireless WiFi streaming, a USB uplink to Apple TV, and a series of wireless speaker units.

Apple could even throw in an optical drive to support DVD playback, CD ripping integrated with a remote iTunes library, or even offer it as its Blu-Ray player, neatly avoiding any need to infiltrate the Mac OS X desktop with all that over the top DRM shoehorned into HD discs.

More Predictions for WWDC 2007: Solaris, Google, Surround

More Predictions for WWDC 2007: Solaris, Google, Surround

Unleash the iPhone’s Open Interface Bluetooth. The iPhone’s only use of Bluetooth so far is Apple’s marginal quality headset and some car integration kits. There’s so much more it could do. Reader William Dumass pointed out that Apple selected the Bluecore 4 chipset from CSR and is using the BLUEmagic software stack from Open Interface North America. That wasn’t done to provide minimalist support for a earpiece.

Expect to see new Bluetooth integration with Apple’s slim keyboard (sheesh, what took you so long, Apple?), smart interaction with Apple’s Bluetooth savvy desktops and laptops (selected file transfer, PIM data sync, but not media sync of course), and an explosion of peripherals once the iPhone SDK arrives. Everything from GPS modules to barcode scanners could be used to transform the iPhone into a digital wireless erector set.

From iDay in SF: A Finer EDGE and New Bluetooth Info

From iDay in SF: A Finer EDGE and New Bluetooth Info

Everything Else
. I haven’t even scratched the surface of Apple’s potential in other markets. Here’s another ten ideas to consider:

  • Commercial applications of Bonjour Ready or an iPod Slate
  • What’s new in Leopard Server, particularly Podcast Producer and its integration into iTunes U for publishing content
  • The result of Apple’s open source Calendar Server and Twisted Wiki and calendaring services
  • The low priced appeal of the Xserve and RAID combination in the enterprise
  • The massive impact that iPhone software applications will have on mobile computing
  • The potential for iWork to eat into significant software sales that have previously defaulted to Microsoft’s grossly overpriced Office
  • The prospect for new applications such as my iLife paint and draw app and professional web and print publishing tool
  • The new graphics compositing Pro App replacement for Shake based on Motion and code named Phenomenon.
  • New iTunes rentals and HD content described in How Apple Could Deliver Workable iTunes Rentals
  • The possibility of code reuse noted in Advancing Software Reuse of Linux, Windows Code on the Mac

Apple in 2008 is going to make it look like nothing happened in 2007. If Apple simply matches its stock performance of 2007, it will surpass Microsoft’s valuation by the end of next year. If it meets its lowball goal of 10 million iPhones in 2008, it will own more than half of the US smartphone market.

What do you think? I really like to hear from readers. Comment in the Forum or email me with your ideas.

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  • nat

    Wow! I knew Apple had potential, but not nearly this much! If ’07 was the year of the iPhone, ’08 will be the year of Mac, or Apple in general.

    Glad Back-to-My-Mac iTunes streaming made it in. I’ve got around 30GB of music and with flash-drives starting out small, perhaps such a service would keep them small. Can’t wait for Macworld!

  • Brau

    Ten years ago I was installing wireless security devices (ITI) that “learn” the devices around them and their abilities, just like Daniel describes here. The result is awesome because you can literally just place them about the house and the main system recognizes them, giving you full control over how and when they operate. I have been waiting to see this ability show up in consumer devices, knowing full well that Apple is best situated to provide it.

    Phil Schiller once said this, when asked about Apple’s plans toward a possible home theatre: “They are too complicated – too many wires. Apple is all about wireless and simplicity.” With this in mind it’s not hard to imagine Apple designing a system where you plug in a monitor (TV), a stereo amp, a media player, set the speakers around the room and it all instantly networks – without wires. I fully believe Apple has opened their stores in order to serve up a much broader spectrum of consumer level products than they currently offer. They have been dabbling in sound system design with the iPod & Boombox, Steve jobs has recently been in talks with the CEO of VON (re: WiFi sharing), so we know he has investigated all the technologies needed to see it come to fruition.

    I don’t agree with the prediction of a Mini based home server though, because it’s presently possible (for those who will accept the grief of setting one up), and is an application of corporate networking ideas that don’t work well in the average home where most don’t even understand basic filetypes, backing up, or even where to download applications. Nobody really *wants* to manage a server, therefore it’s a tough sell to anyone other than a techno-geek – that’s MicroSoft’s forte. Everything that Apple has done so far seems to point toward server-less filesharing, while using .Mac for remote access and Syncing across machines. The new desktop sharing features in iChat could be leveraged across any home device meaning even your iPhone would give you control and access to all your devices. So why would you need a home server? Just buy another Mac …. plug it in … and Voila!

    I recall an Apple patent a while back for a new display that spoke of camera lenses interspersed between the pixels. The implications of this one idea could be enormous.

  • Jon T

    This article will send the shivers down the spine of anyone at Microsoft, let alone telecoms companies and others.

    I knew OSX would be the harbinger of great new things but this list is incredible.

    Happy New Year Dan, and all you brilliant blokes and gals at Apple who are doing such an amazing job!

  • fededambri

    Ubiquitous AirPort WiFi. Uhm…Why not FON?

  • John Muir

    What’s particularly promising is that it’s not only Apple who are adding features … but Apple-centric third parties and, in time, partners in other industries previously untouched by this business.

    The iPhone SDK is going to be one of the biggest game changers of the decade. That device is so packed with potential, and Cocoa is the platform par excellence to be able to really make use of it. We’re going to see some stunning stuff; some right out of the gate but a lot more as it is mastered over the years ahead.

    Your iPod / iPhone Universal Wifi Remote is definitely an idea waiting to happen. Go in to anyone’s front room these days and count the remotes. Horrendous! Apple’s “just works” vision is sorely needed in the lounge and the home cinema. The iPod brought it to public attention and established Apple in the pocket. It’s even found itself integrated into cars in precisely the effortless way those giant companies have failed to handle for themselves for so long. Now it’s time for it to be set loose out the open … using Wifi and the very software skills no one else can match.

    You paint a very promising vision, and I can’t find much fault in it. Let’s just settle in for Macworld and see how much Apple have already decided on and implemented…

  • lmasanti

    “new Bluetooth integration with Apple’s slim keyboard (sheesh, what took you so long, Apple?), ”

    Well, it took like 20+ years to have a multi-button mouse!

    I think Apple want us to “learn to live with touch typing”.
    If the keyboard was already available, people would use it and do not learn “touch”.
    The delay is –IMO– a strategic one.

  • lmasanti

    There is an Apple’s patent about BT discovering devices, receiving [html] information on capabilities and accessing them thru a wireless devices…
    Just the Remote you told us!

  • mikeg

    Ten Big Predictions indeed. In my opinion, 2008 will be a GREAT year if only 30 percent of your predictions come true. Of course, we are holding out for a higher percentage. :-)

    Is there a prediction/idea of how much Flash RAM would be practical in the alledged new Macbook Mini?

    Have a Happy New Year.

  • FloydThreepwood

    Home Server? I don’t see a purpos in a powered half feature PC. The Apple way is to focus on cooperative computing wich works much better since it the superior Networking.

    MS needs the Home Server cause even HDCP routers can’t solve such basic problems like finding the other workgroup PC’s. But the computer sales drift to Notebooks makes it inadequat to station devices at home, wich costs a lot more than a router but only a little less then a 17″ iMac.

    There are also a lot things about the Nintendo cooperation. Maybe Apple could and would deliver a iTunes Wii version. Nintendo would have to solve the problem of the 512 MB buildin chache. But if the Wii will become a iTunes device it also eliminates Apple TV. I for one think the Wii could be capable of Movie playback, since it has the power of a somehow strippt G3 at 700 MHZ.

    But Nintendo will never bring games to the Apple TV or iPod, since Nintendo’s Nongeme aproach could lieraly work with every device since the N64 and GBA. User Interface differences don’t make any problem, Wii is bluetooth and DS is iPod Touch in old (who really needs a second screen?). Nintendo makes profit out of hardware sales there will be no way they give it away.

  • dicklacara

    The idea of an iPhone-like PURC (Personal Universal Remote Control) has fascinated me since the iPhone was first announced.

    1) There are several URCs that cost as much (or more) than the iPhone, and do a lot less (than the iPhone could do). For example:


    2) The iPhone PURC could control and monitor your AV devices or “Home Theater” system(s) from another room/building/continent.

    3) It could be used in a darkened room with the iPhone display, alone, or in combination with on-screen device display, if available (say a TV).

    4) Your iPhone PURC would store your personalized settings (channels, schedules, preferences, etc). When you travel to a different town/country the iPhone URC would translate the local settings and allow you to surf in the same way you do at home (you don’t have to clutter your mind with useless data– Fox is channel 2 in San Francisco and channel 36 on Comcast in Toledo).

    5) The iPhone PURC could be used, from anywhere, to monitor/control/schedule/program:

    –small appliances, e.g. coffee pot, alarm clock, etc.
    –large appliances, e.g. oven, refrigerator, washer, etc.
    –entertainment devices
    –lights, heating, air conditioning, security
    –power usage, efficiency, and backup power
    –“smart home” components
    –look in on the kids or pets
    –emergency notification– fire, police, ambulance

    These capabilities are all available, in some form, today. One of the leaders is a company named Echelon. They offer a series of inexpensive devices to monitor/control everything from a light switch to a grid of street lights. The devices are networked (LonWorks) in a variety of ways, including: twisted-pair wiring, power-line, ethernet, etc.

    Google LonWorks to see what they can do!

    Then just imagine how an iPhone PURC implementation could be the control-center of your universe… wherever you are!

    Now, that’s what I call a Personal Universal Remote Control!

  • http://homepage.mac.com/johnnyapple johnnyapple

    I hadn’t heard about FireWire 3200 before but after looking it up I see that certification will begin in January and be finished by February. That timing seems to work well with a MacWorld announcement. It makes me wonder if a single FW3200 port could be used as a port replicator for a MacBook mini dock. Assuming a MacBook mini has a limited amount of internal NAND flash storage and no optical drive, a dock would be a likely solution.

    I’m still hoping for a much smaller notebook than one with a 13″ display. That footprint wouldn’t be a lot smaller than the current MacBook. No need to dig up that topic again though. We’ll have to wait a few more weeks to find out.

    The iPhone OS X SDK is going to be a big deal because so many new developers will be exposed to Cocoa. That’s got to be a good thing. For fiscal 2007 Apple shipped 8.44 million OS X devices. This year that number will likely balloon to over 25 million. People learning Cocoa for the iPhone and iPod touch will have a foot in the door to discover the benefits to creating native Cocoa Apps for the Mac.

    Along the same lines as the universal WiFi remote, wouldn’t iPod touch with custom applications make a nice point-of-sale device – such as a restaurant?

  • lmasanti

    “Home server?”

    If I can think in “Apple’s way” I’ll say that they will incorporate transparently the functions into AirPort Station and all you have to do is “connect a disk” to the USB port.

    A Home Server’s funtionality is meaninfull for me not to have copies of everything everywhere and still be able to acces media and files from any device.

  • mikeg

    Quote from johnnyapple: “Along the same lines as the universal WiFi remote, wouldn’t iPod touch with custom applications make a nice point-of-sale device – such as a restaurant?”

    Agreed, but didn’t MS introduce the Surface for use as a POS device at bars/restaurants/etc.? Hmmm, perhaps POS may just have multiple meanings in that sense. :-)

    After reading the article, I am trying to come to grips with the concept of ubiquitous WiFi. Is this really possible/practical?

  • http://homepage.mac.com/johnnyapple johnnyapple

    @mikeg, using a restaurant as an example your server would take your order which would wirelessly transmit to a screen in the kitchen where items would be organized by work station, due time, server etc. I’ve seen this before in restaurants but the handheld devices are big and clunky. I think iPod touch would make a very nice order taking device. Microsoft Surface would be pretty difficult for your server to drag around :-)

  • Steve Nagel

    Daniel, this is a tour de force of great ideas for the next ten years. OK five years.

    Here’s a timing question: Can Apple sit back and let Google and Amazon take over our retail lives … while it picks up pennies selling music … tho’ pennies are fine if there are enough of them. It simply cannot afford to. Not when, using the same tactic it did with the iPod, Apple can bring all sorts of buying to the iPhone/Pod/Pad … from coffee at Starbucks to films from Fox to stocks and banking … all of it channeled through iSpend software to the blissful convenience of iPods/Pads/Phones etc. And Macs.

    Money is the ultimate content stream. I think.

    I can’t wait to quit Quicken.

  • mikeg

    @johnnyapple: Ah, I see what you are talking about now. Yeah that would be a neat application. No doubt the MS Surface would be a tad difficult to drag around ( for some people :-) ), but I thought I read where the Surface would act like a fancy table, and orders could be placed from it. Also, the person could pay their bill directly using the Surface as well. Whatever the case, the iPod Touch would be an elegant solution in that particular application for sure. I don’t expect to see a MS Surface anytime zune. :-)

  • http://web.mac.com/lowededwookie lowededwookie

    I think the idea behind the MacBook Mini and the XServe Mini are really made for each other. Think about it, NAND size is increasing but it’s still not viable with today’s large file sizes. What if Apple bought out a MacBook Mini and XServe whereby those with both would automatically have their documents, pictures, movies, music, downloads folders automatically synched to the XServe Mini when they connect to the WiFi in much the same way an iPod is.

    Mac OS X Server is as simple as it is powerful so while having a web interface would be nice it would also be favourable to have the full blown Mac OS X interface so that power users can have a play with possibly the world’s simplest server OS around. I’ve been wanting to get into Mac OS X server for a while but I only have one Mac so it doesn’t make it viable. If there was the sort of setup Dan is speaking of then I’ll be able to get into it and configure everything.

    The asterisk idea is also a fantastic idea and could even be great for home as well as each room could have an extension, you’ll still need multiple lines though.

    Apple Surround seems quite an interesting idea but my biggest gripe about it would be power consumption, the idea of having to power these speakers from batteries is somewhat daft to me as it would suck having the speakers go out on you halfway through the best action scene you’ve ever seen. Thus you’d need power points in each of the areas that the speakers would be. Now let me ask you how many people have that?

  • lmasanti

    “Agreed, but didn’t MS introduce the Surface for use as a POS device at bars/restaurants/etc.? Hmmm, perhaps POS may just have multiple meanings in that sense.”

    In this case, POS means “Poured Over Surface”!

  • lmasanti

    “but I thought I read where the Surface would act like a fancy table, and orders could be placed from it.”

    As usual, good business for Microsoft!
    The owner of the restaurant would have to buy “Surfaces” in place of tables… at $10.000- each…

    Or, one iPod touch ($299 each) per waiter (usually there are less employees than tables!!)

  • gus2000

    Re: “Macbook Nano”

    One of the revolutionary-ish components of the iPhone is the high-resolution screen, so that even the tiniest text is quite readable. If this 160 DPI screen technology was used in a laptop display, a 1024×768 screen would be only 8″ diagonally! Even matching the 20″ iMac display of 1680×1050 would be only 12.4″ diagonally, or just about 7″h x 11″w, truly a notebook-sized computer.

    Also a plus the fantastic brightness in sunlight. The iPhone is quite usable outdoors, while most laptop displays will wash out terribly.

    My top wish for the MBN is that it shoud have built-in cellular connectivity, or at least an internal antenna so that the Expresscards don’t need to stick out like wart waiting to be chopped off. At least let me connect through my iPhone via bluetooth…

  • John Muir

    MS have big plans for the Surface. Didn’t you know that it’s the prototype for the Windows 7 PC? Oh yeah, simply everyone’s going to have them. And it’ll be awesome!

    The sad part is they probably have guys working on this who actually believe all that…

  • Brau

    “The sad part is they probably have guys working on this who actually believe all that…”

    They have to believe because they need a way to rationalize their OS of choice, even if it is completely vaporous. The MS table fails in so many ways from basic economics to human usage (recall those PacMan tables in the ’70s – try to find one now!). People don’t like to lean over things, bad reflections due to viewing angle, and restaurants are a very low profit venture that make tables dirty and simply can’t afford to implement what a mere chalkboard can achieve at no extra cost.

    The iPhone on the other hand is following the trends that have already proven popular in places like Japan, Finland, Korea, and China. Would I pre-order from a restaurant using my iPhone before showing up, make reservations or peruse their menu? You bet. Would it cost the restaurant much to post a menu or implement pre-payment? Not at all. Apple is swinging a new economic door wide open with the iPhone. The MS table, conversely, will just gather dust as a curious novelty.

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  • GQB

    “you don’t have to clutter your mind with useless data– Fox is channel 2 in San Francisco and channel 36 on Comcast in Toledo).”

    Believe me, I don’t spend any cycles worrying about the location of Fox in any city.

  • FloydThreepwood

    Playing is believing

  • http://www.marketingtactics.com davebarnes

    That would be “fewer employees” and not “less”.
    C.f., http://englishplus.com/grammar/00000214.htm

  • lmasanti

    Thanks and sorry, English is my second language!

  • nimbus

    Great stuff, as always.

  • http://homepage.mac.com/johnnyapple johnnyapple

    gus, I agree with your point regarding screen resolution. I’m hoping for a really small MacBook mini based around a very nice but fairly small screen. 1280 x 720 (HD video resolution) at 163 ppi (iPod Touch resolution) equals a 9″ display. I think that’s perfect. It’s wide enough to read a US letter or A4 size at true 100% width. HD video would look fantastic as would web pages and email. The overall size of the device could be as small as a half sheet of notebook paper – 5.5 x 8.5 inches or about 14 x 21.5 cm.

    It’s a similar argument as HD video from 10 feet away. The physical size of the display is relative to how close you’re sitting from it. For an ultra portable, that would be about 1.5 feet. If Apple doesn’t do it this year, I’ll have to hope for next.

  • nextcube

    As a side note, Nintendo now allows you to use (unencrypted) AAC audio stored on an SD card to accompany photo slideshows on the Wii.

  • RDreader

    I’ve always thought the true killer feature of a WiFi equipped iPod like the Touch would be synchronized streaming music from one device to another (or from a central server), so that people can listen to music together without the inconvenience of sharing earphones, and of course, perhaps most importantly: DANCE together.

    This is quite a different feature than actually sharing the song file (a-la Zune), and would only work for short distances anyway (iPod to iPod at least), so it shouldn’t infringe on anyone’s copyright.

    More than anything else, this feature would literally create a NEW KIND of PARTY, where everyone listens and dances to the same music, but simultaneously has full control of the music volume, from ear-blasting down to zero.

    Do you (DED, other readers) agree with me that this is a killer feature? Is there some technological or IP barrier that I’m not aware of that prevents it from being implemented?

  • DirtySpy

    Apples Future is in medium to low priced
    portable devices.

    So you are correct in your predictions of a
    MacBook Mini and iPod Slate.

    Of course anyone who reads Apple’s Quarterly financial
    Statements could of guessed this! (NOT a knock on you Daniel)

    I just own a lot of stock, so the reports are important to me.

    Apple’s 2007 4th Quarter Financial Statement says.
    83% of sales comes from Hardware.

    Of that… 60% Comes from Portable Devices.

    26% from iPods.

    32% from Laptops. (up 135% from 2 years ago)

    2% from iPhone.

    Portable Hardware sales are Key!

    17% of sales come from Software.

    Of that… 10% comes from iTunes.

    Software just adds value to Hardware!


    So if Apple makes most of it’s money from
    medium to low priced portable devices…

    Why then?

    Xserve Mini, Apple Surround, Ubiquitous AirPort WiFi,
    OSX Server, etc…

    Apple always has to ask itself one thing…
    Is the Juice worth the Squeeze!

    Happy New Year Daniel :)

  • harrywolf

    @ Steve Nagel –

    Yes, the money stream is the content Apple need to get involved with.

    iSpend – great name!

    @ fededambri

    Yes, the FON-style network, which kinda works, sort-of.
    I bumped into a FON connection hotspot here in Vancouver BC recently on my iPhone, but couldnt use it – not a member.

    Maybe Apple could buy FON and make it ‘just work’?

    If Apple users are the biggest wifi users, maybe we have a user-base, a la FON. that is ready to be tapped?

    Happy New Year Dan, you have created the best Mac site on the web! Looking forward to 2008 and more great articles.

  • NormM

    One other suggestion:

    Make new Airport act like mini ATT cell tower, so you always get great iPhone reception at home. (I think tmobile does this).

  • blacktalonz

    I really like the idea of “Ubiquitous AirPort WiFi” that would work as Daniel says: “Share yours, I’ll share mine and we’ll have WiFi nearly everywhere that can be securely and casually used to get Internet access when needed”.

    That being said I would be extremely upset if Apple were to “resell access to the WiFi pool to other mobile makers”. If Apple were to monetize my voluntary participation in a WiFi sharing scheme this would cause me to opt out.

    If Apple would swap access to a mobile provider’s WiFi network for access on the “Ubiquitous AirPort WiFi”, where people who share their WiFi can get free access to the mobile provider’s WiFi, then I could see this taking off like a rocket! That is if we could get all the US mobile providers on interoperable technology, 4G maybe?

  • Steve Nagel

    Just for fun…here’s a take on the idea of Apple transaction software…based on an Amazon/Citi visa card offer.


  • thgd

    Following johnnyapple’s great idea about using the iPodTouch for point-of-sale in a restaurant….

    What if you walked into or near a restaurant and their entire menu magically appeared on your iPhone complete with color photos and maybe a movie about their cuisine.
    Maybe the restaurant would hand you an iPodTouch instead of a printed menu. It would be easier to update than printing and could contain lots more information.

    Apple’s newest patent applications and their partnership with Starbucks certainly points to something like this.

  • http://ephilei.blogspot.com Ephilei

    This article should have been titled “2008 Wishlist” as I don’t think Daniel predicts most of these things will happen.

    Bonjour is one of Apple’s greatest technologies and greatly under-used even in its own products.

    I especially wish Apple would be more aggressive pushing compatibility with its Image Capture. But standardizing regular printers is still crying for help. After installing an HP printer for the first time, my mac has noticiably slowed and my dock is littered with resurrecting printer icons every logon.

  • lmasanti

    ” After installing an HP”… scanner…
    …happen the same behauvior!

    As for printers, they hired CUPS programmer!

  • lmasanti

    “What if you walked into or near a restaurant and their entire menu magically appeared on your iPhone complete with color photos and maybe a movie about their cuisine.”

    Better yet… they only show your “prefered” dishes selected from your previous dinners!

    Oh… wait… privacy advocates will cry loud.
    First… opt-in into “follow my taste”!

  • nextcube

    You’re thinking of t-mobile’s Hotspot @home service (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9507EFDA1731F936A35754C0A9619C8B63), which comes with a dual-mode (GSM/WiFi) phone that can make unlimited calls over VOIP when connected to a WiFi hotspot. The service is $20/month on top of your regular service, but alllows unlimited VOIP calls, and includes a t-mobile router for your house that lets any other t-mobile hotspot @home user to use your connection to make VOIP calls (but not access the Internet).

  • http://homepage.mac.com/johnnyapple johnnyapple

    My Ten Prediction for 2008, in no particular order…

    1. Rob Enderle will create false panic surrounding iPhone SDK security ~ it might kill babies and puppies.
    2. George Ou will dance around the truth and hide behind four letter words.
    3. Troy Wolverton will be implicated for insider trading and involvement with the options backdating scandal at CNet.
    4. Scott Moritz will hear whispers ~ “I see dead people”.
    5. John Dvorak will not matter much, again.
    6. Mike Elgan will continue to be “not particularly notable”.
    7. Kim Zetter will reveal to her therapist that she has security issues that she doesn’t really understand.
    8. Paul Thurrott will be arrested for fondling himself in an airport bathroom while reading the user manual for Vista SP1.
    9. Mary Jo Foley will confuse every possible thing surrounding technology and get paid to write about it.
    10. CNet will continue to post quarterly losses.

  • UrbanBard

    One thing that I didn’t see mentioned regarding all these new devises was security. We have Bonjour to instantly know when a new devise is placed on line, but what do we do about the wireless devises? They can be a major security breach.

    I expect that as computer-on-a-chip processors become ubiquitous and cheap that the numbers of such wireless devises will mushroom. You don’t want them to invade your network, so they must be controlled. How?

    I remember reading about an Apple patent last year for a wireless devise that had a range of less than a foot. What use is that? Quite a lot, if it is used as a central network control point. If you lay a devise, such as a laptop, iPhone or camera, on the top of it, inside an Airport Express say, then your home or business network would recognize it, define its permissions and set up the encryption system that you use on your wireless network. It would be easy and fast, but there would be good controls on it, too.

    I expect the number of security cameras, temperature gauges and other such devises to vastly expand. You could use your iPhone to control a number of devises around the home or office. You could change the routing of images to monitors in other rooms, say, as you walk from your living room to your bedroom.

    Apple seems to be preparing for that. If it is not ready in 2009, then it will happen soon afterwards.

  • Steve Nagel

    What will we not see as the years go by. Less wires. Less mouses (mice?). Less buttons. Less remotes? Less of the mechanical altogether as it’s replaced by the virtual and visual.

    Me? I want a multitouch bluetooth keyboard: No mouse. No remote. Nice!

  • spliceguys

    Ever since the rumor of the touch screen iPhone, I’ve been dreaming of using it as a boujour remote for stereo and other household items.. Equipment makers would be begging to include Bonjour in their future products, that just announce their presence and available controls to your iPod/iPhone. Apple could come out with an update to AppleTV that would allow the selection of, or programming in codes for your stereo equipment you already own in the meantime. An add on piece that used the AppleTV’s usb port could be an infrared/RF repeater.

    I have thought for a long time that Apple’s business model is poorly thought out. What I mean here is each time they come out with an update to a newer version of a product, they usually force you to buy the new version, rather than upgrading your current, pefectly usable version.. (iPod 5th gen and then the updated 5th gen iPod). I know some products can’t or won’t be handled this way, such as macs themselves..

    With the iPhone/iPod touch, Apple could capitalize on existing hardware and give people something ‘new’ to purchase alongside it. Say for instance they come out with an update that turns it into a remote control. They could sell additional hardware that will make it work with your existing stereo equipment.. Also, additional hardware sales could be for home automation equipment.. Light switches, etc.. The software is free and works with your mac and iPod/iPhone, but the extra hardware makes more money, without alienating people who already have one by making them buy the ‘new’ version.

    Slightly off topic, but I had always thought apple should come out with a windows version of iChat.. Not to help windows at all, but to sell more iSights to more people.. See, more hardware sales..

    Since the iPod/iPhone has a display that can show anything, it truly can empower more sales of additional add on components.

  • Steve Nagel

    @spliceguys re: iChat/iSight

    Interesting. The firewire iSight camera was a great product. Still sells for up to $200us on eBay. I keep mine for shooting stop-motion animations.

    Why did Apple never want to do, with the iSight/iChat combo, for video what they did with iPod/iTunes? No content/revenue stream of course. But don’t we understand that it’s the hardware that Apple really wants to sell, not the content? And surely Skype suggests there was a business model for iChat.

  • UrbanBard

    Much is going on that we never hear about; Developments come into focus only with hindsight. Great schemes often have to wait; the groundwork has to be prepared before fundamental changes can take place.

    Sometimes, that wait is because the hardware isn’t ready or is uneconomical. Another reason is that the software can be too early or won’t accommodate legacy hardware and software.

    Obsolete equipment and business concepts are cheap and it often takes time to persuade people to give them up. That is why it took Apple ten years to begin to move beyond MacOS 9 and the Carbon API’s. That is starting to happen, now. Apple can begin to implement the NeXTstep technologies which they had wanted for Rhapsody in 1998.

    Apple has had to play a waiting game or even to lie when the hardware, which would lead to the future, couldn’t quite cut it. Wintel was pushing the market in a direction that Apple didn’t want to take, but couldn’t avoid.

    Almost all the innovation in Wintel in the last ten years was on the hardware side. Dell capitalized on cheapness. Cheapness is fine if there are no further improvements in software technology. R&D cost money. Lowest bidder won’t pay for it. All this was to Apple’s disadvantage.

    Apple had to wait until the consequences of Wintel’s business plan had set in. That wait is almost over. Wintel’s market is stagnant. The Wintel hardware is about as cheap as it is going to get; the Megahertz wars have run out. The desktop computer will fragment. Software is going to start to matter more.

    Microsoft’s OS is aligned to the old desktop business model. A paradigm shift is coming. Changes in hardware will cause it, but it will require improved software to take advantage of it. Microsoft is stuck in the past trying to hang onto its monopoly. Apple is ready for the new age of computing to dawn. How it will turn out is still a mystery.

    64 bit Mac OSX Leopard is a great achievement for two reasons: it provides Apple a roadmap for letting go of Carbon in five years and it allows Apple to rapidly move forward to technologies which have been waiting in the wings.

    Microsoft Vista is still in the development hell that Apple went through with Mac OSX six years ago. Vista is an improvement over Window XP in many ways, but it is not yet a modern operating system. Microsoft has billions of dollars to throw at Vista to improve it, but, as it found with the Longhorn OS, too many cooks can spoil the soup.

    Meanwhile, Apple has had to pay the bills with business plans which don’t give the consumer as much choice as we would like. The iPod and the iPhone are a tiny portion of the “digital hub” that Apple has been promoting since 2002. The next step that Apple and Intel is moving toward is ubiquity and low cost.

    Apple is being cagy; it cannot afford to directly confront Microsoft. Microsoft thinks it has time to make the changes to adapt to new developments. It believes that it can afford to retard developments in the way it did with Intel’s EPIC. But, Intel has a technology partner in Apple which is just as hungry as it is. I expect major changes are in the offing that won’t start to happen until next year. The changes will catch people by surprise and no one more than Microsoft.

  • astrochemist

    it follows that greater connectivity, via ub-WiFi and home integral technology, as well as public integrations of the ipod touch and iphone, will come in the next few years since this is part of apple’s goal to ‘enrich lives’

    many commercial handheld devices and scanners [such as those made by symbol and powered by microsoft – like most delivery companies and retail outlets use – including apple] are bulky and nearly inoperable half the time – an iphone with ocr software could replace them for the same cost in a heartbeat.

    wireless data communication between dvices opens many potential avenues for retail purposes, in effect becoming the new POS
    in fact, if you could use your iphone to ring up items as you shopped and then send that data to the checker’s
    computer along with your credit info, checking out would be nearly instantaneous – you wouldn’t even need a bag if you brought your own!

    i could spend all night dreaming along this line…
    MS surface is cool, but even in their demos i’ve noticed hiccups. perceptive pixel will be riding the multitouch wave, hopefully with apple.

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  • batjam

    New form factor gets the optical wetware closer to hardware:

    I’m a Mac user from ’84 on and am embarrassed to have never visited this site before. This site looks like it will be home with lots of high caliber company.

    My contribution to this thread is a simple idea I almost never hear mentioned.

    The answer to the portable screen size dilemma is to make the screen wearable. I’m talking a near eye display Apple style, that is 1920 x 1200 with a 70 degree field of view located below the glasses as either monocular or binocular (hello 3D). Don’t let Microsoft anywhere near this or we’ll all end up looking like the Borg. Team up with Oakley. Make the display OLED with optics from Canon or Nikon so the screen focuses to correspond to any desired distance in the environment. The screen would be below the glasses and very tiny and thin with aluminum enclosure, very Apple.

    Regaining desktop screen real estate would be a big win and a relief to everyone growing tired of looking at postage stamp images. But that’s not all because head tracking accelerometers in the glasses would enable head tracking for games sure, but why not use head tracking so that slight head motion moves you around a virtual apparently contiguous 4096 x 1760 or even larger virtual desktop. Spaces on steriods.

    The glasses are integrated with noise cancelling microphones and serve as the phone and voice recorder mics. Ambient sound awareness is simply implemented by opening a human voice frequency window in the noise cancellation which allows voice through the noise cancellation. You could even adjust the mix to reinforce the ambient sound in relation to music or podcasts. Then whole offices could be listening to headphones yet able to converse easily. There would be no technical reason to ban such a device from the workplace.

    Before high quality compact headphones you had the spectacle of people dragging around “boom boxes”.
    Until high quality, attractive, extremely small near eye displays are offered we will continue to be limited to cell phones and laptops.

    I will only be satisfied when Apple make a wearable box to drive this display. It would be small enough to wear in a coat pocket, butt bag, shoulder holster, purse and would have the identical functionality of a MacBook Pro except it would dock via FW3200 to minimize port real estate. It would retain the cell phone card port to rapidly adapt to evolving cell networks.

    Input would be via a BlueTooth multitouch track pad about the size of the Nano which can operate from inside a pocket or decorated and worn around the neck as an amulet to ward off the Borg. The touch pad can, when needed, be attached to a BlueTooth, full size, fabric keyboard which can be rolled up and pocketed. This bluetooth trackpad would replace all the Apple remotes to run multitouch on the Apple TV. QUERTY sucks anyway and I look forward to fast one-handed “chording keyboards that people would never part with and carry for use with any computer they encounter.

    I think this form factor has enough utility to heavily impinge on the cell phone and laptop markets. It leapfrogs all the problems and goes directly to the same inevitable solution the audio world adopted.

    I’m a retired cinematographer so I’ll relate my vision in an example based on experience.

    What if every member of a movie production crew wore such a device with a live 1920 x 1200 view of the active camera view. An electrician on a 30 foot scaffold controlling a light could see the exact result of aiming it and nail it without all the radio chatter and with both hands free and no orders needed.

    What if a mechanic leaning over a car holding two wrenches can apply torque to the fastener while glancing down at the manual.

    What if everybody buying a personal digital universe could buy still and video cameras that were just boxes with lenses remotely controled or head mounted feeding Final Cut Pro running on the wearable MacBook Pro. Just how much cheaper could cameras be with all of the heavy lifting of CPU, GPU, RAM no longer needlessly duplicated in the box wearing the lens. Basically a Nikon, Canon, etc iSight on steroids and much cheaper than the “full featured” cameras today. In a tough spot at a news conference at the back of a crowd? Tape your camera to a pole and fly it over the crowd. On a tight timeline? Its already captured to final cut. You can start editing during the shoot and check matched action between cuts.

    The mind boggles.

    Not only do you only need to glance down at the screen, but sunlight that normally washes out the screen is blocked by the wearer plus a small shroud around the screen. Low resolution and sun washout are the only reasons I still use an optical viewfinder. Handled.

    I probably don’t need to elaborate on the obvious massive benefit on battery life.

    What’s not to like? It won’t replace everybody’s MacBook Air plus iPhone ever, but there are thousands of similar applications just begging for this solution.

    I think this concept is viral, executed by Apple at least, and could completely change the paradigm of what portability really means.

    If you like this idea, let’s gang up on Apple and demand they build it. There’s no new software at all needed. The hardware can be shrunk with existing parts. The push is on meeting Apples strict sense of when the quality of the display meets their standards and none do currently. This is one productive development cycle worthy of some of Apple’s reserve finances. There are several near-eys display companys who could push up the resolution and reduce size given the promise of volume consumer adoption.

    I think it was Apple Incider that posted a link to an Apple near-eye display patent filing. It mentioned laser mechanisms as tentative. So this whole subject has been at least entertained at Apple.

    Let’s call them “look-down” displays to dispel the image of Mr. Magoo running into a wall muttering, “blasted computers!”. I’m actually quite serious about this and if I had a prototype to show I’d scheme my way into Steve’s office, show him and make him at least think about it. It would top an untopable career.