Angry Robot

crypto-blogging, Apple device, RIAA

Okay, the crypto-blogging will stop.

Have been very excited by the news that Apple plans to introduce a “breakthrough digital device.” “Hint – it’s not a Mac.” The informed rumour-mongerer would speculate that it will either be a portable device or a component piece. Whatever it is, it’s obvious Apple considers it a Big Deal: not only did they refresh half their product line (iBook and TiBook) with very little fanfare last week, they also have aggressively timed this new announcement to snatch thunder from Microsoft’s pending Windows XP launch.

If it is to be a component piece, I would imagine it to be a sort of home media server. It would network with Macs (PCs?), connect to the stereo (obviously), and maybe contain a HD and/or burner. Apple would presumably slap an Airport card in it. What I would like: the machine should function as the AirPort base station – it would remain constantly connected; Apple could then bring iTools into the equation and allow one to access one’s media, stored on the device or on a connected Mac, from any computer.

We assume it will use AirPort (WiFi). Most people take this to mean it will be a music-oriented device, as AirPort can’t handle the bandwidth required for real time DVD or DV. Two points. One, it wouldn’t necessarily need to be real time. Two, there were rumours a while ago that Apple was involved with Domino technology. The cool thing about the Domino chip was that it could transcode MPEG-2 (DVD) to MPEG-4 in real time, meaning that video could be sent over AirPort. Imagine if the beast could hold onto those cute little MPEG-4 files on its hard drive: then you could access your DVD collection from wherever. Also, it would be insane to go all that way without having TiVo-style recording of TV. Handy, that.

But, of course, there are a number of problems with the preceding flight of fancy. Domino chips would have to be in the Macs, which they are not; the thing would be hopelessly expensive; and the MPAA would take out a contract on Steve Jobs. In general, though, it is time for consumer electronics companies to stand up to the RIAA/MPAA thugs. They are a much, much bigger industry, and they are all slitting each others’ throats releasing progressively less profitable clones of each others’ toys. They need to innovate, give the copyright-hating consumer what s/he wants, and so forth.