iTunes Match and the Music Labels

Apple announced on Monday iCloud, Lion, and iOS5.  Oh , and one more thing: iTunes Match.  A 24.99$ a year service that lets you take your existing pira…. er, ripped music and get Apple to legitimize it.  The revolutionary part of this announcement has to do with the labels.  It’s clear the music labels were involved in approving this plan, and it’s also clear that a part of that yearly fee is going to the labels.  It’s low enough people will pay it.  A lot of people.

But the big story is simply that the labels have found a way to profit from the pirates.  With a system like Apple in place, they can now track which songs are being stored and get a cut.  It’s an amazing system, and whoever came up with the idea is pretty slick.  Of course, the flip side is they are also going to make money from people who already purchased the CD.  They don’t mind, I’m sure.

The Future of Apple Products

I’m calling it, yet again. Here.  I’ve made mention of this multiple times on Reddit and HN.  I’m putting it here.  The future of Apple’s Products.

First, if you look at their recent product line, their is one common theme.  Wireless.  Everything is wireless.  Wires exist if they have to exist, but if they can remove the wire, they want to. The next is size.  Everything is getting thinner.  Smaller.  Lighter.  Even the monster iMac is thinning down.  Next, mobility is key.  iPhone, iPods, iPad, the Air.  Finally, their big successes are appliances, not computers.  These aren’t things you open up, these are things they’ve created that you use.  The AppleTV is your big sign.  It’s exactly that: an appliance.  You buy it, you use it.  That’s it.  You’re not running around updating the RAM or adding more hard drive space (which is why they removed it from the second one).

So, what does this all point to?

A server/client setup.  It’s nothing new, but neither was the iPod, iPhone, or iPad.  They were existing concepts that Apple perfected.  So it will be with the future of home computers.  You’ll buy a computer.  It will be a box.  A white box.  You put it in the corner.  You plug it in.  No wires.  Just the plug.  It’s wireless.  It connects to your AirPort Extreme.  It has a screen it connects to, wirelessly though bluetooth.  You configure it with this screen.  It’s like an iPad.  Only it more of a dumb-client, so it’s ultra light and ultra thin.

Your AppleTV can connect to this computer and use it for storage.  Your iPhone can connect to this device and use it.  Your new Air uses this to do all it’s heavy lifting, leaving the Air to get lighter.  Less need for storage space, as the home computer can store it. According to posts on GamingBuff.com we don’t worry, gaming will get better.  Just look what OnLive can do.  So, you’re on your iPad, and you can access your computer and use a program.  Full screen mode on the Mac? What other OS uses full screen mode?  Oh right, iOS.  Suddenly, apps using Apple’s Full Screen mode can move to the iPad.  With the Mac App Store, Apple can ensure this is done.

Oh, we’ll still have big screen monitors for our desks.  They will be lighter, and connect the same way.  Wirelessly and with no effort.  Working on one screen, you can switch to another, and since both devices are connected to the same central computer, you’re work carries over.  Be working on an email on your iPad, then move to your computer.  Auto Saving features that apple has will make this even easier.

You’ll but this computer, and you’ll buy software from the App Store.  Apps on iOS devices and Mac’s will become indistinguishable.  Because the computing power is being handled by the central server, the devices you’ll use (the clients) will be even cheaper, meaning you’ll buy more for various needs.  Maybe all those digital pictures frames will connect into an iPhoto picture set.

Touch screens everywhere, wireless devices for input if needed, but overall, you won’t use a computer.  You’ll be doing something while using a computer, which is sitting in another room.  Oh, and of course all of this supports your typical family (if there is such a thing).

And because it’s all one computer, it’s easy to handle media.  I can buy the media on any device and stream it out to another without thinking about streaming.  I just play.

Finally, with MobileMe in place, everything is accessible via the cloud.  Leave home?  Connect your Air to your iPhone hotspot and link into your MobileMe.  Access the stuff in the cloud, or more likely, access files on your computer at home as if you were there.

What about people who still want a real computer?

Pro.

Mac Pro, and MacBook Pro’s.  They are pro, after all.  And even then, they’ll still be able to link into the main computer.

Don’t get me wrong, I think these “dumb” clients will still be able to operate detached from the mother ship, but I don’t think you’ll want to.  The real power will be that white box in the corner.

I could be completely wrong.  But Apple has everything it needs to do this, and it’s something they would do.

The Next Mac mini from Apple

Making a prediction here.  The next Mac mini’s will be really small.  Think, Macbook Air small.  Just sit and think for a moment.  Put in an SSD drive, remove the super drive, and you have a really small, tightly compact computer.    I imagine you could cut the size in half.  Just a bit larger than the 2nd generation AppleTV.

I’d love this.  An ultra small desktop computer that I can bring with me? A portable development server.  I don’t think this is unreasonable, what with Apple’s push toward making everything smaller.  SSD drives are getting cheaper, and they have that market locked tight.  With a move away from super drives, I can foresee removing them from the Mac minis.  You could always buy the external if needed, but I imagine they’ll suggest you won’t.  After all, media you get from iTunes, and Apps you get from Apple’s App Store for Mac.

So yeah, that’s my prediction.