Apple’s Special Event and Where O Where is my Mac Home Server?

Apple Insider has a story up about rumors circulating around Apple’s Special Event next week (on September 1, 2010). Apple has sent out invitations to the media for an event in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, starting at 10 am Pacific Time. The invitation has a guitar with an Apple logo cut into it, and you can see it here at AI.

Speculation is that there will be a redesigned Apple TV at a $99 price, and that the focus will be on selling or renting video content to be streamed throught to HDTVs. It’ll possibly have its own apps available through the App Store, allowing for other features that typical DVRs/receivers aren’t capable of, including more mainstream games. Obviously it wouldn’t replace a regular console such as a Sonyt Playstation 3 or Nintendo Wii, however for some the iPhone has replaced handhelds such as the Sony PSP and Nintendo’s DS line, and Apple has refused to support Blu-ray viewing on Macs, something that is a major selling point of the Playstation 3. Apple’s view is that they want content, HD or not, to be purchased through their store or added through iTunes and then consumed on everything from an iMac down to an iPad or iPhone.

I would agree that it will probably be based on Apple’s iOS that powers iPhones and iPads. That makes a lot of sense. A new Apple TV has been described as the “tail end” of Apple’s video strategy, and this doesn’t necessarily make sense in Apple’s overall strategy as far as consumers and home products.

I’ve been asking for some kind of Apple home server since at least January of last year. The reason is that a lot of people who buy Apple products are reaching a critical mass with their devices and computers. I can easily see scenarios where you have some kind of Mac portable (MacBook or MacBook Pro), and an iMac or Mac mini, plus an iPhone or two along with an iPod, and now even an iPad. You are looking at a lot of content that is being consumed (through iTunes Music Store) and a lot of content that is being generated – photos and videos from digital cameras, video cameras (think Flip cameras at Amazon for cheap). Cameras are taking larger resolution photos and even the iPhone 4 is generating HD video content. Both of those start taking up a lot of space.

Microsoft’s Windows Home Server has proved to be a success with quite a few people, and the first major updated, Windows Home Server V2 is due out later this year. Windows Home Server-based devices are easy to obtain and cost-effective. HP even has a WHS-based server that works with Time Machine, and there are third party add-ons/hacks dealing with iTunes and iTunes sharing.

The technologies are there:
– Apple has their Time Machine backup software
– There is Apple’s Time Capsule which is a network-based hardware backup system. It’s been compared to Windows Home Server, but it doesn’t have nearly the functionality.
– Apple has been expanding iTunes here and there – it supports sharing music, movies, and TV shows across the network.
– Apple has added “Home Sharing” to iTunes earlier this year. Home Sharing can automatically copy iTunes Store purchases throughout the iTunes-enabled computers in the house. It’s especially helpful when you are buying through one iTunes account, but content is being purchased on different machines.
– Apple has done a tremendous amount of work on the Mac mini, making it even more smaller and easier to connect to an HDTV.

The need is there:
– Many households have multiple Apple devices that need to be backed up.
– A central repository is needed for certain types of content, both user-generated, and purchased content.
– Some kind of Mac Home Server would serve to unify everything.

It could all be wishful thinking, and the next major version of iTunes would work to turn a designated Mac in the house into a Mac Home Server, but it’s still pretty strange that Apple has neglected doing something about tying all of these devices together, and is instead making things worse. A Mac Home Server with the functionality of Apple TV and a Time Capsule seems the way to go.

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