Saturday, January 03, 2009

AU Box Shows What Apple Could Do (And Probably Won't)

Check out the simply-named box from AU by KDDI. Connect it to your mobile or fiber-optic Internet connections, and it accesses a slew of AU/KDDI/Internet services, making them available on both your mobile phone and your home entertainment system.

While I was watching the introductory video, I could only think about one thing: How cool would it be if there was an iPhone dock on the Apple TV? Use a 3G or wired connection, download your shows to both components, and never have to connect to iTunes itself.

Unfortunately I have a feeling we're not going to see anything like that anytime soon. If the history of the iPod has told us one thing about Apple's technical design aesthetic, it's that the Mac/PC is the hub from which one manages one's content. Pushing/downloading content to a computer from a more special-purpose device is a special case, one that Apple's products are designed to reduce in occurrence.

After the rescinded approval of the iPhone data-tethering app, the release (finally!) of a phone running Android, and novel mobile applications like AU box, an optimistic geek might be led to believe that there's simply too much pressure on Apple to maintain the iPhone's "closed platform" nature.

It's certainly not impossible, but I wouldn't hold my breath on a sea change in Apple's broad platform strategy. The fact that Apple TV and iPhone both run OS X is a matter of convenience, not a sign that either platform is destined for Mac-level openness. If you want free reign over your Apple device, to make it do precisely what you want, and run the applications you want, Apple's design intentions be damned, you're better off getting a Mac than an iPhone or Apple TV.

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