Oct 042011

Forget the iPhone 4s that was announced today.

It is not not really that relevant.

The new 4s is an incremental upgrade that sticks rigidly to the Apple design briefs, Launch a product, refine it then redefine it. The iPhone 5 will be the redefinition, the 4s is the 3g or the 3gs for the current cycle.

The new iPod touch in white is nice, the new 64GB capacity is nice, but for $399 I will pass for a while.

There was nothing in that product launch that stood out as ‘new’. The one thing that did stand out for me is that Apple is continuing the battle for the living room. Allowing you to pair your phone with an AppleTV and effectively play a movie or other content on a big screen.

The mobile phone market is not fully saturated yet, there are two real contenders, Apple with iOS and Google with Android.

Both have their advantages, both have ecosystems behind them and both have rabid fans.

Having spent a month with an iPad2 I found that the hardware is excellent and the device is compelling to use.  However I simply cannot live within the Apple ecosystem. If I want to buy a book to read from Amazon via kindle I can purchase on my kindle or my phone and it is available to any kindle device or kindle reader I have. Not so with Apple, if I purchase a book it works on the iPad or probably an iPhone. I cannot buy a book via the kindle app on my iPad as that breaks the Apple rules.

I also spent many hours trying to rip a DVD to play on the iPad, the first several attempts failed in abject frustration, before I rented the movie, one I already owned I hasten to add, for $3, only to find that the movie was in standard definition, pan and scan. When you realize that the movie was an extreme widescreen and I have an aversion to P&S, you can imagine how happy that made me.

Now the Apple ecosystem works if everything you have is Apple, if you have a Mac for your personal computing needs and an Apple TV or two for media consumption, iPhone and iPad for portability and maybe an iPad for the gym. This is great, the integration is lovely.

But if you have DVD’s, Blu-Rays, mkv files, Vobb files or any one of a number of alien file formats, you pretty much need to re-buy your media.

Yes that is correct, there are no easy ways to consume that media in an Apple ecosystem.

It looks likely that Apple and Facebook are teaming up in many ways in an attempt to grab the sofa. This may seem like an unlikely match-up, but given the movements at the recent facebook events, this is a very, very likely match.

In the other corner we have Google and Amazon.

Amazon have video on demand and their recent kindle fire tablet looks set to be a heck of a media consumption device. Google’s TV device hooks up to the library in a few simple clicks. The Amazon widget is appearing on TV’s, Blu-ray and Roku devices.

Which leaves us with Netflix.

Netflix have the lowest budget. But the current largest subscription base. They also have a decent sized library.

This is the new battle.

Google and Apple, with Microsoft and their Windows 8 tablet OS and Windows 7 Phone OS will fight it out for sofa domination. The way to dominate is to take up partners, Amazon, Facebook and possibly Hulu and a few others will be key to this.

I wonder if Apple will price their way out of the battle, their closed ecosystem will certainly not appeal to anyone with a proliferation of non-iOS devices ?


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