Apple makes a ton of stuff. Compared to when Steve Jobs returned and drew that grid with notebooks and desktops, consumer and professional, and, yeah, of course, some accessories and ancillaries, Apple now makes a ton of stuff.
Never mind Mac or even iPod. RIP. Almost. There's Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, AirPods, and HomePod, and all the cases and cables and dongles and software and services that tie them all together. And then there's the new Mac Pro and Pro Display on their way.
So. Much. Stuff. So much, Apple recently exited the AirPort router business because it was too much.
Here's the thing:
Part of me kinda wishes they'd make just a few more.
I know. I know. Apple needs to focus. For every yes there just needs to be a thousand oh hell nos. I get it. I'm with it. I don't have the t-shirt because they didn't make it.
When it comes to focus, everyone wants Apple to keep the products they personally like and just kill the rest. You know, the ones other people like. Sometimes, often times with fire. If you love the Mac, the new stuff is a distraction. Kill it. If you love the new stuff, the Mac is dead weight. Watch it burn.
Ask 5 people and all of them will say the other four people's stuff just had to go. Sorry. Totally not sorry.
But, if Apple's time and resources were truly unlimited. Not just the "Apple's one of the richest companies in the world and obviously I've never heard of the mythical person month so I'll just keep tweeting about how they really should be able to do it all, all the time!" crap our feeds get festooned with on a regular basis. But for really real unlimited.
Here are some things I think would be super interesting to see.
I've mentioned the lust in my heart for an Apple Home Theater in a few columns already as well. Sure, it could just be an existing HomePod Stereo pair with a dedicated Home Theater Mode that stays connected to Apple TV and provides as close to Dolby ATMOS-like sound as computationally audio-ly possible.
But, it could also be a bar or an ellipse or tesseract or whatever Jonathan Ive's team of industrial designers come up with. Something that looks terrific mounted near your TV but sounds even better filling up your TV room.
If it connected wirelessly through some next-generation Apple W-series silicon in the speaker array and a future Apple TV, that'd be cool. Though, if it doesn't also have HDMI and Bluetooth, the hot takes will be scalding. And, since it'll need a power cable at the very least, and extra wire won't totally ruin the futuristic appeal.
If it had tvOS built-in, so you didn't need a separate Apple TV, that could potentially be even better. Apple's giving iTunes to Samsung and AirPlay to Sony, LG, and Vizio, so it'd make sense to give their own kit an even bigger advantage as well.
Apple killed AirPort. I mentioned that at the top. And, honestly, I'm still a little sore about it. The router is the gateway to the internet and there are very few companies I trust with the packets leaving my computer and hitting the internet than Apple.
Also, given Apple's ecosystem, there are very few companies that could offer as many potential features and integrations as Apple.
It would be secure but it would also be private. It wouldn't monitor your business or get all up in your traffic.
It would just sit there, running services you wanted to persist even when you take your MacBook or iPad out with you, and cache updates, and recent or frequently accessed data from the cloud to just make everything work faster and better.
Make it mesh, so you could drop one anywhere in your home or office that you need to. Maybe even make it double as a HomePod mini, so it keeps the cover of routers being over but really just starts putting router nodes into everything else. Including the next HomePod not mini, the next Apple TV non-dongle, and so on. Basically, every Apple device that's plugged permanently into a wall becomes part of the mesh, and makes all your stuff available every where you are, and take my money.
Apple Game Console
No, not Pippin 2 electric boogaloo, or XPlay Switch whatever. But an Apple TV that tries to walk back the mistakes of the previous generation. Apple had a real shot at capturing part of the living room game market, especially the casual games market. It had studios and developers that looked at just how big iPhone gaming was and salivated over the prospect of Apple pushing the same type of platform onto the television.
But Apple made a couple of huge unforced errors. First, someone, somehow, convinced the rest of the product and executive team that it was ok to mandate that every game had to support the Siri remote as a game controller. Second, instead of slowly warming developers up to the advantages of on-demand resources over a year or so, they thought they could drop them into a full on boil and not have them scream.
As a result, many of the bigger studios and developers went from go-for-launch to wait-and-see and, by the time Apple removed and relaxed those requirements and restrictions, there wasn't much left to see.
So, Apple's story went from the future of TV is apps — and games — to, oh, hey, look, 4K HDR! And the rest is… the present.
To be clear, Apple doesn't need the living room gaming market. It's all up in the even more enormous smartphone and PC markets.
But, some of the people who love Apple the most also love gaming, including people at Apple.
And, if Apple were to make a version of the Apple TV that was bundled with an Apple Game Controller, maybe even different retro controllers from different famous gaming consoles of the past that came with games from those consoles, so you could play Sonic and Virtua Fighter, Samurai Showdown and, sure, Galaga, that could be enough to re-ignite interest.
Of course, so could be rumors of an Apple gaming subscription service as well.
I still think early Apple television rumors were based on financial analysts hearing reports of the original 27-inch iMac panels flowing into Apple's supply chain and just hope-summing anything that big, back then, simply had to be a TV.
Rumor has it, though, that Apple did prototype at least a few different television products over the years but ultimate chose not to ship any of them.
Probably because televisions have razor thin margins and really long replacement cycles, two things that don't traditionally fit into Apple's business model.
So, even knowing that, why do I still want Apple to make one? Easy. For the same reason I want Apple to make anything — the current ones kinda suck.
I mean, the display tech is great. LG OLED is terrific and others are catching up and microLED is on the horizon, and we have HDR and 8K is about to go mainstream, and all of that is good, great, whatever.
But the software on almost all of them still sucks and the Smart TV apps tend to totally suck, and you can trust them not to harvest and broker your data about as far as you can throw them. With one hand. Using one finger.
A not-smart TV, one that's just a terrific panel without any of the spyware or crapware on it, would likely be the ideal for many. Buy it, mount it, hook up an Apple TV or whatever box is your favorite to it, and just start streaming.
But an Apple television that runs tvOS — essentially has Apple TV inside — with multi-person FaceID for security, immediate dynamic account switching, and even FaceTime calls, and including that ATMOS-quality HomePod Theater speaker array, that mesh router, and that Apple gaming system built in.
Modular, like the rumored new Mac Pro, so you can swap out the brain and radios to upgrade the silicon even if you're not yet ready to upgrade the panel.
Are you getting it yet?
A revolutionary television with computational audio. A secure home mesh hub. A video and entertainment system. Are you getting it yet? It's not three products. It's… Yeah. Sorry. I had to.
But, hey, however you want to market it, you could certainly do it with margins that aren't quite so razor thin.
At least until the AR glasses make most TVs obsolete…