Tomorrow Apple is going to announce something new, people say it’s an iPod of some sort, and there are rumors that its big innovation is that it supports digital radio, with a tie-in to the Apple site that sells music.
Okay, that’s all speculation, let’s get that objection out of the way. But in case it’s true, let me be the first to say: Apple is chickenshit!
I feel that way about the iPhone, it’s a chickenshit device, from a company that used to be a daring hell-raiser. Apple, after all, was the first mainstream PC manufacturer to build networking into every box, starting in 1985. I’m not even sure that every Dell sold today comes with networking, no matter, Apple was way ahead of its time, and helped make it inevitable that a new network with storage and computing power at the terminals would exist. The world desperately needed that at the time.
Apple was also the company to break through on wireless networking for PCs. It was eight years ago that the first Airport was released, it was a completely new idea, a long-term bet, and because they had the guts to break through there, we now have widespread wifi as a worldwide standard. I can’t use my cellphone everywhere in Europe, but I can use my MacBook. :-)
So what if…
What if the iPhone didn’t come ready to talk to AT&T over the cellular phone network, rather it came ready to work over an EVDO network? What if, like all Macs, it could then make its wifi capability available to all computers in range, wirelessly of course (Windows machines too). And what if there was already a wifi signal, that the iPhone would magically “just work?” And then just leave out the EVDO. Yeah sales would be slow at first, because wifi isn’t available everywhere, but then when Apple shipped the Airport there weren’t many computers that could use it either. And there were cheaper ways to connect Macs to Laserwriters, but full networking created a powerful platform.
Such a product would, in the next eight years, force the same kind of upgrade to the technological infrastructure of the world that the Airport set in motion eight year ago.
Okay they didn’t do it. The iPhone is a nice device. On Entourage last night, Johnny Drama is showing pictures on an old non-iPhone phone. It looked dated. Stylistically the iPhone is a milestone, but technologically it’s just a brick.
Now on to the iPod, and Chance #2 to blow us away with their gutiness or gutlessness.
Dear Apple: Let it support wifi, let it connect directly to the Internet to get music and podcasts, and let’s at least start to get rid of syncing as a way of life.
But radio? OMG that’s so 20th Century. Fugghedaboudit.
Carl Sagan in his 1994 book Pale Blue Dot, explains why human beings find road trips so satifsying.
The earth’s climate is always changing, even before global warming, a rain forest would turn into a desert because the weather pattern changed. Or some animal or plant that you’re depending on for food or shelter or trade, might suffer or go extinct. Or a volcano might turn up right in the middle of your civilization.
Leaving one place for another is a big part of being human. And the reason we like travelling so much is that evolution culled out those of us who didn’t.
And maybe this also answers the question why, when I travel, I’m always thinking about what it would be like to live there. It’s not my mind that’s wondering, it’s evolution’s mind.
The change notes are here.
If you’re actively developing in OPML, or plan to, a careful review would be a good idea, to catch any mistakes before the spec is finalized.