Apple has been very successful with iTunes and the iPod. Maybe it has even helped them sell more iMacs. But clearly it is time for them to move on. I don’t just mean little tweaks like the rumored iPod phone or full-screen video player (which I hope comes out in July and will be cheap enough that I can pay for it with AdSense and Amazon money). And I was thinking about the nano today and how easy it would be to bend or break it while it is in your pocket and I thought a good idea would be to put a hinge in it like a small cell phone.
Actually I’m thinking that Apple could really beef up iTunes, maybe calling it iHome or something and really make a big play on home automation and controlling home entertainment systems. I think they could put all the ingredients together by using wireless networks to stream programming to home stereos and TV’s. They could record HDTV programming from cable, satellite, or broadcast signals (like Tivo), along with letting you download music and video either to own or rent. Maybe they could find a way to combine DRM and let you rip your own DVD’s to store on a giant hard drive. And it would all be served by an Apple computer. You could surf the net too and do it via a remote control (which could be a Blackberry or iPod). If a TV incorporated Airport you could completely eliminate all the wires connecting to it except for power.
Because I don’t think it would be that much harder to add, you could have it turn on lights, make coffee, close the blinds, etc. Maybe they could even control the AC by only cooling or heating rooms where people were. You could program the water heater to have plenty of hot water in the morning and less during other parts of the day. That way they could save tons of energy.
The nice thing about this is that there isn’t a product that does all of this yet and it wouldn’t really compete with Microsoft. In fact it would make regular PC’s seem as mundane as a stapler: something you just use at work. You wouldn’t be forced to sit at your computer anymore. Eventually homes will be automated, and with a name like Apple behind the idea, it could take off . . . or be three years ahead of its time and become a Newton. At any rate, with the introduction of video on iTunes, I don’t see how they can keep calling it iTunes for long.