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Apple to tackle consumer electronics; iPod "boombox" planned - Page 2

post #41 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by Telomar
Sorry we aren't talking about computers here and different principles apply. Every CE company has factories that manufacture key items in house in order to improve margins so they don't pay for designs or manufacture.

CE is dominated by the likes of Samsung, Matsushita, Philips, LG, Pioneer, etc. All do a very large portion of their component manufacturing in house for key components. Again the age old argument of vertical integration.

Apple can try to compete with them and as long as they're innovating they'll even have a decent chance but once the market matures Apple will be competing on a totally different level. Interfaces and features of other products become good enough and to the consumer it comes down to largely price, or name.

The longer other companies take money from them for designs or components, the greater Apple's risk. If I were over at Apple I'd be taking a very long look at what could be redesigned in house to improve margins. I seriously doubt they'll ever become a straight CE company. They might go for new markets and aim to take a lead or create the market early but matured markets would be a very bad idea as different factors are important.

As I said about Sony, these are all industrial conglomerates. They produce consumer goods partly to the have another outlet for their components. Component sales are a great part of their output. Where does that output go after they use up what they need for themselves? To each others products.

This has nothing to do with Apple. Companies like Apple are design houses.

Apple has no chance to compete with them in other than certain areas. Just because they produce most things at home doesn't mean that Apple must.

Should Apple set up a $3 billion plant to manufacture LCD panels for its monitors? Because that is the end result of what you are saying. Should they manufacture their own power supplies instead of having their designs made elsewhere? Another plant.

At what point does this stop? Should they get into cpu design as well?

Do you understand what an industrial process really means? No company is completely independent. Sony uses Toshiba transistors and the other way around. Their suppliers make the metal chassis for their electronics. Others make the knobs. Still others make the power cords.

Apple got rid of its plants because of the reasons I stated. It costs them less this way. They are less subject to market fluctuations when they don't have a large manufacturing payroll and long term and short term debt. You might notice that in their financials. All of these other companies you mention have appreciable amounts of both.

If you look at Apple's margins, they are higher than any of these other companies as well. That's what we're talking about. Apple owns its own designs. That's what matters.

When my company put out a new product, I would try to get as much of it done outside as possible, because it's cheaper that way. When I did a design, I tried to find modules that were already being made by those companies that specialized in them, rather than reinventing the wheel. As long as you have reliable suppliers, you are fine.
post #42 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by planetWC
Perhaps it is all about cross hardware integration

Home theatre evolved Intel based mac-mini (ie HTmac-mini)
- Front Row 2.0 interface available for all macs
- Video content download from iTunes store
- Additional content from .mac

Boombox iPod
- built in airport express
- built in flash or hard drive
- streaming audio via airtunes
- can serve as remote speakers for HTmac-mini

As others have said, Apple needs to make that 30" display support HD input.

Apple is in the elegance business. Cross-hardware integration as you said. Again I don't think they'll get into the boombox business. I just don't see it. Let the market worry about soldering 3-inch speakers to fm tuners and such, ie settled innovations with already dominant players. They should stop at the video/audio out interface (although the really could sell/"dell" 30-inch monitors, huh?). Consider:

1) Synchronization of music through the house (a la sonos) wirelessly without delay? A great job for apple. They'll sell a little white cube of plastic and a sexy remote for every room. Oh, and it does VOIP. Maybe they sell a voip phone.

2) Seamless movement between media on computer, ipod, and tv, including fax and voicemail.

3) How about a large, nonportable, macro-ipod, ie a RAID that functions as a media server, lacks much interface on its own, so that pirating hollywood's precious media off it would be difficult, but you need itunes/frontrow to interact with it. RIP your dvds to it.
post #43 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by benny-boy
[B]Apple is in the elegance business. Cross-hardware integration as you said. Again I don't think they'll get into the boombox business. I just don't see it.

I am no longer willing to say what they will or won't do.

After this year is over, they are on their own.
post #44 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by jdbartlett
I'm actually expecting to be rather disappointed by the releases at this year's MacWorld. If as many products as expected are released, I reckon it'll be at the expense of quality.

Don't forget that Apple brought the original iPod from concept to market in a year and does a fair job keeping a secret.

Anything can happen.
post #45 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
I am no longer willing to say what they will or won't do.

After this year is over, they are on their own.

Now THAT is funny! LOL!

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #46 of 61
Somewhat OT, but about that Sony thing....

I realize that when most people say "Apple can or should be more like Sony" they mean something along the lines of "A company that makes computers that also makes a fairly broad range of CE devices which leverage a knack for elegant industrial design".

But as has been mentioned, the risk lies in diluting your product matrix by offering so many different items, and so many different variants on each item, that one's inclination is to just throw up your hands and run screaming.

Particularly over the last, oh, I dunno, 10-15 years, Sony has gone completely berserk, offering endless iterations of countless gizmos, many of which it's not even clear what they are intended to do or how they work.

It's as if over at Sony when an engineer wanders in and says "I think I can make an audio book/video camera/personal voice recorder thing with a proprietary file format that folds up into its own little case and communicates wirelessly with this lcd screen for some reason and it uses memory sticks and mini-discs", instead of saying "What market is this supposed to serve?" management says "Cool, we'll put our best industrial designers on it so whatever the hell it is will be extremely good looking. Oh, and we need 15 different models with vanishingly slight differences between them".

Apple needs to stay far, far away from that action.
They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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They spoke of the sayings and doings of their commander, the grand duke, and told stories of his kindness and irascibility.
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post #47 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
"Oh, and we need 15 different models with vanishingly slight differences between them".



Thank you for a good laugh.

God I hate Sony for exactly this reason.
post #48 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by lx-88
PLEASE STEVE, don't turn MACworld into iPodWorld like it was last year with the shuffle.

I'm surprised that no one (that I saw) noted that Steve introduced the Mac mini during the alleged iPodWorld. For many, the mini introduction was pretty significant in convincing a lot of people to give the platform a try.
post #49 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by addabox
Somewhat OT, but about that Sony thing....

I realize that when most people say "Apple can or should be more like Sony" they mean something along the lines of "A company that makes computers that also makes a fairly broad range of CE devices which leverage a knack for elegant industrial design".

But as has been mentioned, the risk lies in diluting your product matrix by offering so many different items, and so many different variants on each item, that one's inclination is to just throw up your hands and run screaming.

Particularly over the last, oh, I dunno, 10-15 years, Sony has gone completely berserk, offering endless iterations of countless gizmos, many of which it's not even clear what they are intended to do or how they work.

It's as if over at Sony when an engineer wanders in and says "I think I can make an audio book/video camera/personal voice recorder thing with a proprietary file format that folds up into its own little case and communicates wirelessly with this lcd screen for some reason and it uses memory sticks and mini-discs", instead of saying "What market is this supposed to serve?" management says "Cool, we'll put our best industrial designers on it so whatever the hell it is will be extremely good looking. Oh, and we need 15 different models with vanishingly slight differences between them".

Apple needs to stay far, far away from that action.

We don't mean to go to that extreme, at least I don't.

But All "pure" computer makers are also stepping into the CE space as well. Some have been very successful at it. Those have had good products. Hp is a good example. Their Tv's and cameras have been successful, and are big money makers.

There isn't any reason why Apple can't do that as well.

I'm not sure that I would want to see Apple make camcorders or even cameras anymore, but big screen Tv's sure. Their 30" monitor has been a great success. An Apple branded line of Tv monitors would sell well. The same thing for a convergence device such as a multimedia computer, perhaps based on the Mini as we've been hearing about.

I don't know why they couldn't have a printer line again. Their printers always sold well, and made good profits. Jobs didn't discontinue them because they were losing money.

If Apple could make more networking products, they could do well also. But they would have to be priced realistically. But that's a very large market these days. They do have two products. They could expand that line.

There are a lot of possibilities.

I don't want to see them making electric toothbrushes, portable cd players, vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, watches, cheap 5.1 surround systems (though a fair price model would be good), or anything too far from home.

But the consumer wants to by branded systems. We even see this on the hi end where it used to be that people would pride themselves in matching from different companies.

Basically what I think is good would be computing, audio, and video.
post #50 of 61
The Sony modus operandi seems to be "Let's make eleventy billion gadgets and see what sticks. Then sell it at a horribly overpriced rate and invest that money into another eleventy billion gadgets."

That is one modus operandi any company should stay away, not just Apple.
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post #51 of 61
I just thought of one other thing that might seem to be a natural.

An Apple music system for automobiles. Audio companies have been doing that for years, and they have been very successful. That is a tremendus market. One third of all car brands already offer iPod compatable systems, and the car makers say that they've been hugely successful. Mercedes has said that they can't keep up with the demand. If Apple could offer that to the car makers, with really good iPod controls, they certainly would go for it.
post #52 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
I just thought of one other thing that might seem to be a natural.

An Apple music system for automobiles. Audio companies have been doing that for years, and they have been very successful. That is a tremendus market. One third of all car brands already offer iPod compatable systems, and the car makers say that they've been hugely successful. Mercedes has said that they can't keep up with the demand. If Apple could offer that to the car makers, with really good iPod controls, they certainly would go for it.

Nope, more and more the vehicle manufacturers are doing a whole kit and kaboodle thingy with the aircon controls, navigation, radio etc all in one.. less and less std din type radio systems in vehicles.. best thing Apple could do is offer a consistent interface (physical connection and data types) that the manufacturers can plug into to get audio and video into their own proprietary systems.. because thats pretty much what/where they are now/going. Unless thats what you mean by a 'music system' ?
post #53 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by gsxrboy
Nope, more and more the vehicle manufacturers are doing a whole kit and kaboodle thingy with the aircon controls, navigation, radio etc all in one.. less and less std din type radio systems in vehicles.. best thing Apple could do is offer a consistent interface (physical connection and data types) that the manufacturers can plug into to get audio and video into their own proprietary systems.. because thats pretty much what/where they are now/going. Unless thats what you mean by a 'music system' ?

But the complaint is that they aren't very good. Just read the auto magazines. They don't get it right. Apple is great on ergonomics. They could work with these companies to offer the audio part of the system, and help to integrate it. These systems are based on computers, integration can be done from the beginning. I'm not thinking about add-ons. That's why I said to go to the car companies rather than the aftermarket installers.

Bose (ugh), and others do very well in this market. Apple could do much better. It's a selling point for the manufactures. They advertise the car with the "Bose Audio System". I think that "iPod ready Apple Audio" would sell quite well.

Oh yeah, don't forget phones. There has been talk that Apple might start its own phone network as other companies are doing. Sprint sets it up. Target and Disney are doing or starting it. Others have already done it. Motorola has said that they expect Apple to come out with its own phone.
post #54 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by Gene Clean
The Sony modus operandi seems to be "Let's make eleventy billion gadgets and see what sticks. Then sell it at a horribly overpriced rate and invest that money into another eleventy billion gadgets."

That is one modus operandi any company should stay away, not just Apple.

Big companies tend to fall from their own capacity, overproduction, and inability to keep from overdeveloping within one market segment. It's to the point where they sell off large chunks of themselves because they lose the market and need a quick buck and elect to resort to outsourcing soon after. Most companies' with in-house R&D that get huge find that they have to dump their technology divisions off to try and compete and/or consolidate. AT&T spun Lucent off, GM spun off Delphi. Lucent which once was huge is hanging by a thread in terms of stock price because they used to be able to rely on the AT&T $$$ but now they can't guarantee it and they've struggled to find buyers in other companies' to shore up the loss. Delphi declared bankruptcy. Many GM cars are using Pioneer-sourced head units of late, and as a whole... GM isn't very healthy as it is even there because they've failed as large as they are to build product that competes.

When you buy a GoVideo DVD/VCR, the layout and interface screens are all too similar to Samsung, even to the point of using similar icons and load screens. So even CE companies outsource tech and share hardware/software. Many cell phones are based on Symbian OS with some interface tweaks between the brands to set them apart. Few anymore rely on their own tech in this regard because it's an extraneous outlay.

What other big monolithic companies do we know of that are failing to compete or are struggling to keep pace with their smaller and quicker competition?

When's Longhorn shipping? When will it ship with everything that was promised BEFORE it was realized if they waited that long, it might not ship before 2010?

How long from XP to SP1 to SP2? How long from NT4 to 2K to XP, to Longhorn? How much success did Microsoft have making Win2k replace Windows '95/'98? It's often said that they failed to meet the mark they set to have 2K replace DOS-based Windows.

How many features has IE failed to have and standards have they failed to support that other products have been able to not only rise up via open-source from the brink of death, but to surpass and eclipse IE feature per feature? Think about it... it's taken Microsoft how many years to get a pop-up blocker in? How many years to get tabbed browsing? How many more years before 24-bit .png files render properly with alpha-channels without non-standard workarounds? How long before IE can render a DIV-centric layout with basic HTML 4 Transitional and CSS as well as Firefox/Mozilla and Safari/Konqueror/Opera and OmniWeb can?

What Apple excels in is being a large company, large in such that the iTMS is up there above some big box retailers in terms of music sales, their computer sales are growing, customer brand awareness is perhaps at an all-time high, and the company is on the cusp of a potential explosion. Apple has it clued in.

Notice that with the iPod, there's a certain level of diversification between each model? The nano is small, portable, has a screen, and some additional features that you can't achieve on a Shuffle. The Shuffle is a great value and is very simple and clean and easy to use. The Nano has a bit more tech and is a bit tougher for a novice, but it's still an elegant GUI and it's easy enough to adapt to, esp. compared to the competition. It doesn't play video... but with a small Flash-ROM based storage solution, you're not going to fit much video, and the screen is tiny enough that video would be painful anyway. Enter the iPod video, which not only can store umpteen times the songs, but can play video, and is still compact for what it provides. The pricing for each is great, with even the top-line being a value for the level of design and capabilities. Apple in terms of innovation and potential capabilities has become the springboard that other vendors have built successful businesses off of by accessorizing it.

Sony on the other hand is turning into a vertically scaling mess the size of a Microsoft or GM or AT&T. They're starting to hit that stage of paranoia where rather than produce one breakthrough product that people are compelled or drawn to for it's awesome industrial design, material quality, reliability, and performance... they're developing 20 of the same product in 20 different colors using different software and hardware foundations and supporting formats that only Sony makes available with mediums that Sony develops to answer questions noone asked. When you build product at this range of expanse... where you're a jack of all trades, master of none... you slowly start to erode/slip. Sony hasn't hit this stage in all capacities... but even in their desktop computer form factors, they're producing big black boxes with uninventive designs that offer much the same features as their competition but don't even cover the full gamut of available model ranges to compete in overall volume, and yet the pricetags of a desktop from Sony are higher than their competitors and often have the same or less features.

This is where Apple in the CE market needs to be and needs to stay. Don't overdiversify product within the same product realm, diversify so that you're offering more breakthrough products (or more overall products) but less versions of each product. Design in-house if necessary, but always work to leverage outside tech firms where possible to produce the tech. for you for production.
post #55 of 61
Catchy name. How do you pronounce it?
post #56 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by melgross
Catchy name. How do you pronounce it?

MMackey27...
post #57 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by /V\\/V\\4ck3y27
MMackey27...

Cool.

Welcome over to the best boards around for fuzzy thinking, and fractured analysis.
post #58 of 61
Thanks melgross. I'm not really new here, I used to have IVIIVI4ck3y27 as a name here, as well as I believe -==MMackey27==- as well going waaaaaay back in the day to when I had a 7200 or 8500. LoL I sort of lost the login/pass awhile back a few times and had to resort to getting new names because the email address the board responds to had also changed multiple times. Hopefully this one will last for awhile. LoL

I spend most of my time over at Applenova's boards (www.applenova.com) anymore too which you can get to via Thinksecret. They're a pretty good group over there as well with some interesting commentaries. I love the variety of responses you can get from one rumor site to another to another and then over to the messageboards for the Mac magazines too. The more the merrier.
post #59 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by /V\\/V\\4ck3y27
Thanks melgross. I'm not really new here, I used to have IVIIVI4ck3y27 as a name here, as well as I believe -==MMackey27==- as well going waaaaaay back in the day to when I had a 7200 or 8500. LoL I sort of lost the login/pass awhile back a few times and had to resort to getting new names because the email address the board responds to had also changed multiple times. Hopefully this one will last for awhile. LoL

I spend most of my time over at Applenova's boards (www.applenova.com) anymore too which you can get to via Thinksecret. They're a pretty good group over there as well with some interesting commentaries. I love the variety of responses you can get from one rumor site to another to another and then over to the messageboards for the Mac magazines too. The more the merrier.

I think this name is better. It's easier to read.

You're right about the more the merrier. Each board seems to have its own trends in thinking about issues.
post #60 of 61
melgross, i agree about the audio point. system by apple would be great. I wonder if introducing a standard car stereo that could be installed (like an alpine, etc) in cars that are eligible would turn people on to the idea. Of course they'd all get ripped off, but people might start thinking about a car stereo where you could just stuff your ipod into it, turning your car into a gasoline-powered ipod accessory.
ps I recently bought a subaru with a totally closed system, leaving me with fm transmitter as the best option. damn them!

oh, and as much as we'd all like apple to rule the world, wouldn't a standard jack that allowed you to control any mp3 player menus from, say, the steering wheel, be the best? Maybe apple should just license the clickwheel for automakers! and them put a docking cable (either apple or something yet-to-come) in between the front seats or in the glove box.
post #61 of 61
Quote:
Originally posted by benny-boy
[B]melgross, i agree about the audio point. system by apple would be great. I wonder if introducing a standard car stereo that could be installed (like an alpine, etc) in cars that are eligible would turn people on to the idea. Of course they'd all get ripped off, but people might start thinking about a car stereo where you could just stuff your ipod into it, turning your car into a gasoline-powered ipod accessory.

The only reason I didn't suggest that, though it could be done, is because working with the car manufacturers would let them get to the electronics at the earliest possible stage of design. That's when the greatest influence on the product can be exerted. It's also the cheapest time. The later in the design process you get in, the more expensive it becomes to change the design.

In the beginning, a change to the programming of a ROM would have a great effect on the feature set at small cost. Much later on, an entire device would have to be installed to accomplish the same thing, and usually not as well, and certainly not as integrated a solution would result.
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