I love the soap opera that is Apple. Time and again Apple introduces a new product and takes a step closer to its master plan even when it has to take a step backwards. Case in point: Facebook being pulled from iTunes 10 at the last minute or only ABC and Fox committing to $0.99 TV show rentals. Eventually the other shoe drops and it all comes together.
But often, Steve hints at bigger things to come without laying out his master plan. There were two of them I noted in Apple's music event on August 31. FaceTime for iPod and AirPlay.
I'll talk about the major significance and secrets of FaceTime via WiFi in a future post but today I wanted to point your attention to how during Steve's intro of the new AppleTV he waited until at the very end to showcase AirPlay. What used to be known as AirTunes for streaming audio has been changed to AirPlay and can now stream photos and videos as well. This has huge implications for Apple as a mobile device maker that no one else has even contemplated yet - it will change your life. Here goes:
Apple knows that you want to watch your videos, movies and photos on your TV. (As cool as it is to watch videos or Netflix on an iPad it's primarily only good for personal viewing.) Now with AirPlay, you can buy a video on your iPad and stream it to your TV with a single click so the whole family can watch it with you. Go one step further: shoot some video or snap some photos with your iPhone and AirPlay it to your TV - or the TV in your friends house that also has an AppleTV. The TV becomes the playback device for your library of content from all your mobile iDevices. Go one more step further and you'll be able to store and stream any of your content anywhere from their billion dollar data center ("iCloud"). Imagine calling up your copy of "The Incredibles" on your mom's TV while babysitting. Your content everywhere. The holy grail of media.
Such an idea completely undermines the power center of renting, owning or subscribing to cable and clearly Apple is not willing to share the master plan. But all the pieces are right out in the open (which is to me part of the magic of Apple marketing): the much smaller, cheaper, streaming-only AppleTV, the rebranding of AirTunes, the Ping social hooks in iTunes (which BTW is also up for a name change), and the updates to the Apple Remote app.
Apple remade computers, music, phones, games and is now coming to your family room. Let's not forget that ABC's largest shareholder knows a thing or two about remaking movies and media.