Tomorrow’s Digital Hub, Today!


At a MacWorld keynote in 2000, Steve Jobs pitched the Mac as the Digital Hub, and shortly afterwards released the iPod. Now that technology has had a few years to advance, this concept is finally coming to life…
The iPod was Apple’s first component of the Digital Hub (other than the Mac of course ;-) ). The aim of the digital hub: Steve knows that most people think computers are a pain (thank Bill Gates for that), and are reluctant to do much more than use Office and download MP3’s. With the digital hub, he hoped to design computers to work for people rather than against them when dealing with devices that have the potential to make your life much easier and/or more enjoyable. Essentially, Steve realised that now music could easily be integrated into the digital realm, he could market a revolutionarily consumer-friendly music playing device – people may not like computers, but they most probably like music. So you see the angle.
As the iPod photo and AirTunes begin to show, Apple is, having been thrown in the brightest spotlight currently shining in the consumer world, now beginning to expand the range of the digital hub. Inevitably, Steve must have wondered what other massively popular aspects of culture can be merged with the Mac. So here are a few guesses, looking at the bigger picture:

As a rumour posted on today suggested, and Apple designed phone could already be on its way from Motorola, though this should be taken with a garbage truckload of salt, as we’ve been following false rumours about the iPhone for some time.
Having said that, cell phones to me are like computers to windows users – frustrating and often baffling. Not only that, but there really just aren’t any really fashionable phones around. I’d have thought Steve, particularly with the Motorola relationship (shhh) would have noticed the potential market here. Sure, it may not have made sense When Apple was out of the consumer eye. But with the free publicity and support they get thanks to the iPod, maybe it could all work out now?

These days, a digital camera is quite a common thing to own, but like most other digital devices not made by Apple, they can often be a pain in the ass for someone who just wants to be able to take a good looking photo of whatever they’re doing no matter how wasted they are at the time (your average consumer). In my opinion, a consumer digital camera designed with that Apple ease of use/stunning good looks (that doesn’t look like IR binoculars), marketed well, could do for digital photography what the iPod did for digital music.

DV cameras are becoming pretty common too these days, but are still too expensive and the market for them is moving too slowly to prompt huge technological advances which benefit the consumer. In the stagnant market of DV cameras, if an iFilm were to join the growing digital hub, it could well spark the real DV revolution.

With the advance of technology, I’m guessing that in a few years we’ll see an iPod with a built in still/video camera and phone. Oh, and it’ll do your taxes for you.


Jamie Kirkpatrick

I’d love to see the ‘digital hub’ concept take off properly, but tbh – they need to perfect what they already offer before movig on and releasing more gadgets. Airtunes is great, but it is so limited currently – I am desperately waiting for a remote control / display to apear and for Apple to release and SDK to make the thing more usable! If Apple want ‘normal’ computer users to take up these techno offerings, then they really do need to make them work for the people. They can’t expect people to use the stuff if they need a laptop or some other unrelated technology to make the solution workable!

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