Does NetGear Have Apple Envy?

12 Comments

Someone at NetGear must get a raise for planning the first press conference of Day One of CES, there by ensuring maximum impact for somewhat marginal product releases, a few upgrades and one meaningful product – Digital Entertainer HD – that would become memory the minute Steve Jobs does his iTV thing.


Anyway what is most important to note is that NetGear is taking its design cues from Apple and its product offerings. The abundance of white, the smooth and rounded edges, and even an Apple-like grille. Check out their new storage device … looks like old Apple Cube.

It is not necessarily a bad thing, for the world does need more aesthetically pleasing electronics gear. The iPod has been a positive influence on the mobile handset business, something we have noted in the past. The commodity consumer electronics business could use a similar makeover. Even the cars from 1970s are most elegant compared to some of the digital devices that find their way into the market.

Hat Tip, Niall Kennedy.

12 Comments

Om Malik

John,

on the color white – well no, but was anyone using white. remember those ugly gray mp3 players from rio. i have one sitting right here, and it reminds me how far we have come, and mostly because someone figured that white was cool if done right.

Om Malik

Michael

i agree. apple envy is good. i think it worked for mobiles which are better looking now than they were about two years ago. same is for digital devices. this is a good thing to “take” from apple. I wasn’t being critical on the “inspiration” part.

Victor

Lots of products should be in the market from companies like apple, HP, Linksys, Dell, Tivo etc.

Michael Markman

Apple Envy? You bet. And not just NetGear. Lots of folks are catching on to the value of good product design. Does it hurt them to take the shortcut of borrowing from Apple’s design vocabulary?

Matt

“No, Apple does not own white, but its interesting that white was not around before theiPod, isn’t it?”
Do you want to think about what you’re saying there, fanboy?

john

Apple’s got a patent on the color white now? Hmm, didn’t know that.

Om Malik

Jeff,

I agree with you on the BitTorrent part, and i think that is an interesting way to look at the world. I think Apple is going to be incorporating some sort of swarmcasting technology in their future OSes, as it becomes the preferred way to get video. anyway lets see how it all shakes out.

Jeff

Even before this announcement, Netgear was already in this business. Apple is just playing catchup.

I’ve got a ($200) Netgear eva700 device, which is more or less the same as the HD device announced today, without the HDMI interface (it’s got YUV outputs and does 1080i no problem, so I don’t mind not having a DRM-crippled digital interface off the back). Under the hood, it’s a Syabas-based unit.

The thing works as advertised, playing just about any sort of video that you throw at it. I use the open-source Wizd media server, because I can customize the interface to my liking. Other people use twonkyvision, or the Media Connect features of WMP 11.

But, I spend much more time watching content on the device than I do fiddling with the interface, so the video compatibility and good quality output is much more important to me than the marginal interface.

Apple is almost certainly going to produce a unit with a better interface than this one, though it seems doubtful that Apple will support as many video codecs (MPEG 1-4, ACC, WMV, and essentially every form of DivX or XviD I’ve thrown at it). If airTunes/iPod is any indication, their video device will be connected to iTunes more tightly than it should be — and I seriously doubt it’ll support WMV.

The interesting thing about this announcement (to me, anyway) isn’t the hardware itself, it’s the arrangement with BitTorrent, Inc. Much (most?) of the content that’s played on these sorts of devices today is coming from the BitTorrent network. Tighter integration with the leading technique of video distribution is a very good thing — especially considering that BT has got all of those agreements with the movie studios, and keeps saying that they’re going to release a legitimate pay-to-download service any day now.

Om Malik

Oh yeah. that storage device is what I got my eye on. Now lets see if they actually work as well as they look without much mucking around.

Nick Mazza

Copying Apple or not, those are some slick looking products. Beats the hell out of the purple Linksys box sitting in front of me :4a7d3d609129a9296bf7ac0608c2097

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