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» DIGITAL LIFE: iBOX? from FutureParadigm.com - In Search of the Paradigm Shift
Some venture capitalists just don't get it. Yes, Microsoft wants to own the universe. That isn't the strategy Apple follows. Apple chooses to produce a 'community' -- not a population. If they really paid attention to Steve Jobs in his many interviews... [Read More]

» DIGITAL LIFE: iBOX? from FutureParadigm.com - In Search of the Paradigm Shift
Some venture capitalists just don't get it. Yes, Microsoft wants to own the universe. That isn't the strategy Apple follows. Apple chooses to produce a 'community' -- not a population. If they really paid attention to Steve Jobs in his many interviews... [Read More]

» DIGITAL LIFE: iBOX? from FutureParadigm.com - In Search of the Paradigm Shift
Some venture capitalists just don't get it. Yes, Microsoft wants to own the universe. That isn't the strategy Apple follows. Apple chooses to produce a 'community' -- not a population. If they really paid attention to Steve Jobs in his many interviews... [Read More]

» DIGITAL LIFE: iBOX? from FutureParadigm.com - In Search of the Paradigm Shift
Some venture capitalists just don't get it. Yes, Microsoft wants to own the universe. That isn't the strategy Apple follows. Apple chooses to produce a 'community' -- not a population. If VCs/media really paid attention to Steve Jobs from his many int... [Read More]

» DIGITAL LIFE: iBOX? from FutureParadigm.com - In Search of the Paradigm Shift
Some venture capitalists just don't get it. Yes, Microsoft wants to own the universe. That isn't the strategy Apple follows. Apple chooses to produce a 'community' -- not a population. If VCs/media really paid attention to Steve Jobs from his many int... [Read More]

» DIGITAL LIFE: iBOX? from FutureParadigm.com - In Search of the Paradigm Shift
Some venture capitalists just don't get it. Yes, Microsoft wants to own the universe. That isn't the strategy Apple follows. Apple chooses to produce a 'community' -- not a population. If VCs/media really paid attention to Steve Jobs from his many int... [Read More]

» DIGITAL LIFE: iBOX? from FutureParadigm.com - In Search of the Paradigm Shift
Some venture capitalists just don't get it. Yes, Microsoft wants to own the universe. That isn't the strategy Apple follows. Apple chooses to produce a 'community' -- not a population. If VCs/media really paid attention to Steve Jobs from his many int... [Read More]

» catching up from Critical Section
David Hornik sees Microsoft at CES, and is impressed. Have they leapfrogged Apple? Don't know. I am curiously uninterested in Media Center PCs... Why is that?... [Read More]

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Francois Schiettecatte

David

The iLife applications are not closed, iTunes' playlists are contained in an xml document which can be readily parsed for example, and a number of companies have produces interesting devices which interoperate with iLife, such as eyeHome (http://www.elgato.com/products/eyehome.htm), HomePod (http://www.macsense.com/product/homepod/) and SlimDevices (http://www.slimdevices.com/).

Personally I am waiting for reviews on the eyeHome device to see if it is worth buying.

Sean

With Windows, you'll always get more choices. With the Mac, you just hope that you get a few quality options - usually, the vendors come through with something stylish, but they come late, and they come with a higher price tag.

On the plus side, plug and play is still leagues ahead simply because the Mac doesn't have the wide variety of hardware that the PC does. My XP machines crashes constantly because of the ATI All-In-Wonder 9700 drivers when I try to use it with anything fancy like SnapStream's Beyond TV.

Gerry Hornik

David, I just read your blog. Hiss! Boo!

If you had your TiVo hooked to your home network instead of the phone, and you were willing to pay the $99 for the Home Media Option, you would see that there already is a Home Media Center connection between the iLife applications (at least currently iPhoto and iTunes) and the television (via TiVo). I can listen to the iTunes music that's on either of my Macs on our TV and view the iPhoto pictures that are on either of our Macs there, too.

And you can pretty easily use your large TV screen as your Macintosh screen.

So they're getting there. The problem isn't the design of the things nor the open or non-open nature of them. It's that not too many third-party developers want to bother developing things for the Macintosh because it only represents a relatively small number of potential customers. It's an unfortunate catch-22.

Your father, who thought he had brought you up better to appreciate the really good things in (i)Life. ;-)

Bevo Novo

Troubling. To read a VC rhapsodize about a Microsoft product deo-monstrated at CES. I'm looking in the archives for similar enthusiasm re: SPOT watches (the ones that get data from FM radio waves) fro last year.

People really don't want to spend >$1000 for a PVR.

The eyehome is more interesting because it bridges the gap between PC and TV rather than trying to drag one or the other into foreign territory.

Alessandro Isolani

I've always wondered why Apple shows no interest in developing basic consumer electronics.

After four years I STILL can barely figure out how to conference on this lousy inter-tel phone on my desk, and they aren't cheap! Ok, get the first caller on the first line. Then hit 'conference' and then 'hold'. Activate the second line, then hit 'conference' again. Then hit 'hold', then push the first party's line again, then hit conference a third time. If Apple pushed a sleek chrome phone with an Apple interface at a slight premium, I'd be first in line.

Almost every consumer device I own has a LOUSY INTERFACE, from my microwave oven to my cellphone to my Stereo to my TV. If Apple stepped into ANY of these markets as well as they came into the MP3 player market, they'd be a Sony killer.

The iPod was not even close to first-to-market, but the iPod is so good that it made the entire segment mainstream and doomed the competitors to obscurity. This with almost ZERO advertising.

So why not build things that are already mainstream, but make them mac-like?

The high-end stuff (PVR's, PVP's, etc) are no-brainers. It can't be that hard to apply their design and interface philosophy to more basic items as well. Until the VCR blinking 12:00 is a thing of the past, there is room for Apple.

Alessandro

Raj

Bravo Gerry Sir! Kids can always use a lesson or two. If you had 15 seconds to stop the world from blowing apart and you had an Apple computer and a Microsoft-based PC to throw that "softswitch" to save the world, which computer is user-friendly enough so you "get it?" On a related matter, just read another interesting piece in EE Times that jives with this entry - http://www.eetimes.com/sys/news/OEG20040122S0022

Raj

reggaebwoy

HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS.

Exclusive Insider Information: Apple iBox in production.

Alex Wicketts, Dec 31 2003, 07:00am

We just recently received information from a alleged member of a testing program at Apple.

MacOSX.com isn't in the business of spreading rumors, nor do we wish to put ourselves into harms way, but we felt this is news worthy. We are trying to find out as much as we can. More on this if we get it, here you go:

The Apple iBox is a project that, in one form or another, the company has been working on for years. The prototypes for the first set top mac are still found on eBay today. Little is known about these, but I do know some interesting things about what's now called the iBox.

The iBox has a small, sleek encasement that is about 10 inches long, 6 inches wide and 1 - 1 1/2 inches thick. Its optical drive is slot loading and it has an on button that resembles the cube's power "button." Its case is made of the same material found on the G5, even sports the same grey logo on the top. The front, or face, of the iBox is pearl white, similar to an iPod.

What does it do?

The iBox plugs into your TV and acts as a hub for your digital devices and computers. Unlike the EyeTV from Elgato, the iBox is a standalone machine, not something to plug into an existing computer. The iBox can be scheduled to record TV, but unlike TiVos it does not serve as a "what's on and when" service rather a hard drive / media based recording device (new aged VCR). With its built in 802.11b & 802.11g from its AirPort Extreme card, one can access the home folders of any user on any wirelessly networked Mac or PC. The iBox has its own version of the popular iPhoto and iTunes software which is a welcoming plus to Mac OS 10 veterans and easy for Windows users to adopt as well.

The iBox has a built in hard drive meaning it can be used as a network's hub for homes or offices which would like to share photos, music, or other files. Not only does it act as a hub which can connect wirelessly or by Ethernet, it also calls upon its hard drive to record live TV. The iBox has its own on-screen set up and scheduler, but you also have the option of setting the iBox remotely.

iBoxRemote

This app is quite the little powerhouse. It allows the user to schedule the recording time without being in front of their TV. This is beneficial for the obvious convenience of not leaving your Mac to go fiddle with the TV, but also because it does not interrupt anyone whom may be watching TV at the time. The other great thing about iBoxRemote is it can be used off the iBoxs residing network. You can log into your iBox at work or anywhere on the go and remotely set date, time and channel to make sure you don't miss an episode of your favorite TV show.

iBoxRemote also serves as an interface for watching live TV on your computer. Additionally, it lets you watch TV (or dvd's that are in the iBox) in full screen or in a resizable window.

As well as being able to watch live TV, you can watch your archived TV shows on your home computer. This is very simple to do because the iBox can be mounted as a drive on your computer.

SuperDrive in a iBox

The iBox has a built in SuperDrive which means you can now play CDs, burn CDs, play DVDs, and burn DVDs right from your TV. Apple has included a special iDVD like app to make your burned DVD's professional feeling. There are numerous bundled templates that make organizing episodes a breeze.

iPhoto iBox style

The iPhoto that Apple bundles with the iBox is a lighter version of what we have on our Macs today. Despite the "mini" version of iPhoto many major features do remain the same, such as organizing photos into albums or rolls. You can use your iBox to store your pictures too -- all you need to do is plug in your digital camera and hit the on-screen upload button. It can also create slide shows and lets you make and purchase photo albums. The photo album process has been given more options such as different album themes (similar to the themes of iDVD and Keynote where there are backgrounds and other cute things), and even a more detailed album preview. One of the slide show options is to view the show in a book form (which sport the new themes). I'd think this might be some kind of hint of things we'll get in the next update of iPhoto or iLife.

iTunes on the iBox

Not much is changed from the popular iTunes in desktop form. Some of the controls and interface elements have been altered to make navigating (throughout the whole system) easy with the iBox remote control. You can have friends over and have them plug in their iPods and listen to their tunes over your home stereo (but just like on your mac, you can not rip their songs to the iBox hard drive). Any Mac or PC on the network that has iTunes installed can share music with the iBox. You also can play everyone's iTunes music as well as others being able to play the music from the iBox. Apple has made sure to include the iTunes Music Store for the iBox.

iBox Specs

The specs have changed many times but I am unaware if this means different models of the iBox or if updates occurred. The following specs are based on the model I had. I try to note what has changed from the demo units to the units I've last seen.

Processor: 500 MHz G3 (while the most recent revision/model I've seen has the 900 MHz PowerPC 750fx which was the last processor put in the G3 iBooks, with the same 512k L2 and everything).

Ram: 128MB built in, and no empty slot to upgrade.

Storage: 120 gig

Ports:

1 FireWire 400

2 USB 2.0

10/100 Ethernet port... (there is no 56K or similar telephone jack)

Standard RCA in and out for video and audio, and S-Video support. There has been some confusion on who produced the card for this, but there have been multiple sources Apple has looked to including Techno Trend, Elgato, and Heuris, among others.

Optical Drive: SuperDrive

AirPort Extreme

Built in Bluetooth - (something similar to what Jonas Salling has made will be offered as a download soon after the announcement. I haven't a phone with bluetooth to test it, but other testers have been fiddling around with a phone controlled remote for the iBox.)

There is also a small square that is removable which is for some kind of upgrade/expansion spot. I have (nor do any of the other testers) no clue what this is for, besides maybe a possible ram upgrade.

The iBox will be sold along side TiVos and DVD players and burners. Apple is trying to open its markets and has made many alliances due to the iPod. iPods are found in Targets, BestBuy's, and many other stores that don't normally carry Apple items. This has been vital for Apple's growth in product distribution and opening once-closed doors to future stocking of Apple products.

Although the iBox could be announced on the 6th, it would not be suprising if its shipping date was delayed a few more months for further testing. The iBox will be sold in a $395-$595 range depending on storage configurations.

*** Again we will be looking into this more and have already responded back to this person in hopes to finding out more details - MacOSX.com Staff ***

reggaebwoy

Addendum to the above. --> Buy more stock David.

Nice pics are available at this link.

http://www.macosx.com/content/article.php?cid=55

Even if the story is false. It gives us hope.

Mark

Interesting analysis, and I'm in no position to provide an irrefutable proof, though I do have some doubts about MS strength in this area.

Fundamentally, Microsoft suffers two weaknesses: first, it's more immediate problems in the area of security mean that it's usual broad and intense focus is being hampered by pressing security concerns today; and second, Microsoft ISV's, in absence of the guiding Microsoft hand, tend to diverge toward the chaotic - they don't tend to partner unless it's Microsoft they're partnering with.

On the security front, Microsoft is fighting I think, a pitched battle, with crackers on one side - spitting out the virus de jour - and Microsoft on the other, patching things the best they can.

For as long as the company has existed, their goal has been to "integrate-integrate-integrate," and they've done it all in-house. It's worked marvelously for many years because for a long time, no one has been able to "out-big" Microsoft in the software realm. No one has been able to compete with them in terms of the numbers of engineer-years they routinely throw at a project.

But if physical laws exist in the software realm, they're outlined in the book "The Mythical Man-Month." You can't become infinitely big, or develop an infinitely complex system without things breaking down. Eventually, you can throw as many programmers as you can possibly find into a project, and you'll come up short.

It seems to me that Microsoft today is running into that wall. They've developed something that because of it's legacy code, because of the fact that it's all developed strictly in-house, and because some of the design-decisions made years ago ("integrate-integrate-integrate") don't mesh with reality today, they're living in a period of embattlement.

And that embattlement is going to increasingly take up their time, so that less critical initiatives suffer for lack of focus. Microsoft may want to get into home theatre, for example, in a big way but so long as their core business is suffering, engineers are going to be short in supply to do the job "right."

My other point about developers not being able to coalesce around a particular way of doing things comes from a bit of anecdote as well as a bit of personal experience.

Microsoft has done a great job supporting niche vendors - integrators who combine some code with highly customized solutions for corporate customers. On the other hand, when that niche becomes too big, then Microsoft absolutely has to break into it. They have to because they need to continually find new, profitable revenue streams to help support growth in an otherwise saturated market.

This has a dual-dampening effect on vendor cooperation. First, it implies that any market niche that's good enough to cooperate on between vendors becomes a target for Microsoft itself. Second, it implies that if you're going to do a deal with anyone, it had better be Microsoft. If you're going to be in bed with anyone, better that it be the 800 lb. gorilla and you alone, where you might be able to get lost amongst the sheets, than you and ten other guys all fighting for that crevasse in the linen...

Either way, your chances are slim. And this has devastated the market for truly revolutionary products in the Microsoft world. You're not going to see many new-concept spreadsheets on Windows (I'm going to reserve opinion on whether we need one, though even there I think we would be well-served to at least see one like an Improv today).

Microsoft, in their success, has gone a long way towards making the platform a kind of two-tier environment - niche, and mainstream. And God help you if you've got a mainstream idea, because it won't be yours alone for long.

Purely anecdotally, can you think of any significant idea that hasn't been met with a Microsoft alternative and that's not been beaten to death at least as long as it took to either: (a) determine that the thing is not commercially viable, or (b) determine that Microsoft will expend any and all energies to make sure that it alone wins?

And so we get back to the analysis: is this marketplace going to come up with "the next big thing." My argument, and source of doubt, is that first, Microsoft is unable to exert the kind of pressure that it normally can to see a "next big thing" through to completion, and that second, it's vendors have been shied away from acting independently (and from time-to-time, in necessary cooperation) to make enough of a move to establish new standards in emerging markets.

Regards,

Mark

(Disclosure: I'm running a small Mac software startup - so I suppose I'm at least putting my money where my mouth is in terms of this analysis :)

Regards,

Mark

John Furrier

I would agree that Microsoft has put more into developing out the GUI. I remember in 1996 I met with Joe B and the IE3 team and pitched my idea and prototype of a nameserver doing keyword search and navigation for advertisers and around the notion of doing better navigation with keywords. Joe B really understood where the GUI needed to go for a better user experience.

Maybe he could make a run at doing the same work for the home vision. There is a ton of work to do there. The MAC folks are making a good play by using entertainment (e.g. music) as the entry.

DonGalt

I never have understood what it is that can let someone say "Windows is an open platform" with a straight face-- especially when comapred to Apple.

Apple released their software in open source, and is an open platoform for people... Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING Microsoft does is proprietary. Hell, you can't even develop for their platform (Realistically) Without paying microsoft a licensing fee (Eg: developer network fees.)

Apple does provide extra support for a fee-- but they also ship a complete development system in a box.

I am forced to conclude that the people who say this have no clue about openness-- they are just trying to find a justification for microsofts success that sounds like its based on actual hard work on microsofts part, or better choices.

Frankly, it isn't. Microsoft works very hard-- but they make very poor choices regularly. They leveraged IBM's market dominance to become dominant themselves and have done nothing but protect that dominance since then.

They certianly aren't more "open" than Apple.... a company that has had to leverage open standards to stay viable for almost 20 years-- SCSI, NuBus-- these were standards. IDE is only a standard by default.

Windows media-- closed, proprietary.

Quicktime-- An open standard, and the basis for MPEG4.

Office file format-- closed and constantly changing to thwart interoperability.

Apple's OS-- Uses XML everywhere.

And lets not forget that EVERY GUI innovation I can think of in since the macintosh as originated with Apple. (No, the task bar is not an innovation, and no, it didn't originate with microsoft.)

Frankly, ever since Microsoft has started beating the "We just want to innovate" drum-- I've asked people to name a single invention that came from microsoft and was successful.

To date, nobody has named one-- other than some arcane aspects of NTs thread scheduling and superior "marketing" innovations-- Microsoft invented the "cut off their air supply with vaporware" announcement.

So, stop trying to justify your like of microsoft-- they helped make you rich. They made your friend rich. Great. Value was created, you benefited, etc. etc.

Just don't tell us that Microsoft is profitable because they are better, or smarter, or anything like that.

Microsoft is the proof that the best product doesn't always win, and that even a decent product is not a requirement to win in the marketplace--- its an important lesson for entrepreneurs.

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