Not one to subscribe to rumour but this is one I have been keeping an eye on since January last year during the Macworld expo (where I also caught a glimpse of the video iPod!). Thinksecret has caught wind of something that has been on the cards since 2003 actually, an apple PVR/MediaCenter aimed squarely at the living room. Their article “Reborn Mac mini set to take over the living room” points out that the combination of the cute, diminutive MacMini with Front Row 2.0 (a software app that allows you to control the Mac using a traditional lounge remote device) will mean the entry at last of Apple into the home entertainment space.

While the specific model and speed of the Intel processor in the new Mac mini is unknown, sources are confident the system will be ready for roll-out at Macworld Expo San Francisco, in line with other reports Think Secret has received that Intel-based Macs will be ready some six months sooner than originally expected.

Given the competition already in the market – TiVo, Microsoft’s MediaCenter, many integrated PVR/Service Provider combinations and of course many of us that have PC’s as our TV capture devices, I wonder if this will be a powerful an entry into the market as the iPod was for MP3 players. I do recall the early MP3 landscape BI (before iPod) was a confused pot pourri of offerings – nothing grabbing the hearts and minds…then along came iPod wooed those who would never have thought of owning such a device. So will Apple create such a glorious design that every home will ‘need’ one to act as their personalized media centre? Well they seem to be maintaining interoperability with Apple’s recent financial saviour.

The new Mac mini is also said to sport a built-in iPod dock, a feature that was scrapped from the Mac mini Apple first introduced one year ago.(snip)
While Apple surprised watchers when the company delivered Front Row alongside updated iMac G5s recently, Apple’s media center intentions have become startlingly clear in the past year since Apple first delivered the Mac mini and customers first started connecting the system to home theaters and installing it in automobiles. Sources have hinted that additional media announcements will further propel Apple’s strategy, and with the hardware, software, and iPod sales behind it, Apple now seems poised to firmly plant its footprint in living rooms.

Indeed. Apple, now is the time to offer iTunes via the TV set or docking the iPod to act as portable conduit for music and video. A two way street, items synch’d from the PC can be fed to the home surround sound system, or video loaded onto the MacMiniMediaCenter (flows off the tongue). Alternatively downloading video content over your broadband pipe directly to your iMediaCenter (better!) can be uploaded to your iPod. The video content industry (notice how I avoided TV industry) is already knocking on Apples door. Will you (Apple) take the PVR industry by the scruff of the neck and really start the personal TV revolution? I suspect you have a better chance than any other company on the planet at the moment. The ground work is laid by the likes of TiVo and MS now show us the best design and interface but more importantly grow that trusted relationship between consumer and content providers that you have pioneered with iTunes already. I do hope though that we go way beyond just linear content and that personalized and interactive content gets a look in.

Posted by Gary Hayes ©2005