Apple to tackle consumer electronics; iPod "boombox" planned

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod division is preparing to extend its reach into the consumer electronics market with the release of several iPod-related digital audio products early next year, AppleInsider has learned.



Sources familiar with the company's plans describe the new products as "iPod companions" rather than "accessories," and say Apple appears ripe to announce the first of the gadgets as early as the second week of January at the annual Macworld Expo in San Francisco, Calif.



One such product described to AppleInsider is an iPod boombox "unlike anything seen in boombox world" and strikingly different from "anything Apple has released in the past."



Details of the device are few and far between, but one source called the gadget an oversized iPod with boombox-type speakers. "It's ideal for use on a bookshelf or on the go," the source said.



The device is rumored to include wireless audio streaming capabilities, but could also rely on a built-in hard drive, iPod dock, or a combination of the three technologies. Nevertheless, the Cupertino, Calif-based iPod maker is expected to market the device as "plug and play music for your home."



Some earlier reports had referred to the boombox as an "iPod radio," suggesting Apple may have considered integrating satellite radio capabilities into the device. Apple is known to have been in talks with Sirius Satellite Radio over the past year, but even the most recent reports on the subject imply a partnership between the two companies has yet to materialize.



In releasing a slew of new iPod companion products, sources say Apple hopes to expand its foray into the lucrative consumer electronics and digital audio accessory markets, where the company has realized some of the heftiest profit margins.



With Apple reportedly preparing to announce sales of over 40 million iPods early next year, consumers have shown a willingness to purchase add-ons at an expanding rate, catapulting the iPod accessory market into a $300 million business. This is due largely in part to Apple's marketing, a vast increase in the number of world-wide iPod distribution points and rising iPod accessory attach rates over the last couple of years.



Gavin Downey, a director of product management at accessory maker Belkin Corp, recently told the Boston Globe that during the early days of the iPod consumers were purchasing one accessory for every 15 to 20 iPods sold. Today, it's almost a one-to-one ratio, he said.



Sources say Apple hopes to leverage the booming iPod business and its strengths in distribution by aggressively marketing the upcoming iPod companion products alongside its digital music players at big box retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Radio Shack.



The forthcoming iPod companion products have been under development inside Apple's iPod division for the better part of the year, with the origins of at least one product dating back to 2003, according to sources.



Since its inception in May of 2004, the iPod division has operated under the direction of Apple senior vice president Jon Rubinstein and the watchful eye of Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. Apple's vice president of iPod engineering, Tony Fadell, is currently shadowing Rubinstein in preparing for next April when he will take over the reigns following Rubinstein's retirement.



With now less than a month to the kick-off of Macworld Expo, Apple enthusiasts have begun to speculate wildly over what Jobs may have up his sleeve. Several reports have pointed to Apple releasing the first Intel Macs, while others highlight expected iPod and audio/video service announcements.



One analyst believes the company, along with Jobs, is gearing up to put on a heck of a show in January



"Macworld could be a circus," said UBS analyst Ben Reitzes. The analyst expects a slew of new products that could include Intel Macs, and other new hardware, content and services.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 60
    A "boombox"? This had better be something radically different (and I wouldn't doubt that it would be...) or it should be left to the other add-on companies to manufacture.



    Anyone have any solid evidence of this? Because as a concept, it falls short of expectations.



    I'd much rather they focus on a home media center ala the iMac minus the computing platform, acting as server for movie downloads, streaming music, possibly even as a VoIP box?
  • Reply 2 of 60
    Yeah, BLEH!



    How about an improved Airport Express more like Slim Device's Squeezebox. And add video out like on Linksys's Media Center Extender. There are so many better things Apple could do than "Hey, let's make an iPod with speakers!"



    - Jasen.
  • Reply 3 of 60
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by AppleInsider

    Since its inception in May of 2004, the iPod division has operated under the direction of Apple senior vice president Jon Rubenstein and the watchful eye of Apple chief executive Steve Jobs. Apple's vice president of iPod engineering, Tony Fadell, is currently shadowing Rubenstein in preparing for next April when he will take over the reigns following Rubenstein's retirement.



    His name is Rubinstein.
  • Reply 4 of 60
    PLEASE STEVE, don't turn MACworld into iPodWorld like it was last year with the shuffle. I want my intel powerbook!
  • Reply 5 of 60
    I've always thought a boombox would be a great idea. The docking speakers from x, y, and z are huge sellers... so why not do it in a boombox formfactor, throw in a few huge @ss lion batteries to shut the whiners up, and you still have space for a couple of killer features: built-in Airport Express, A CD-player/burner, a radio (to shtu up those whiners), and/or wi-fi. Make these other features modular and it's even better, but that's dreaming. Anyway, bring back the oldschool iBook rubberized surface, and you instantly have the best dock/speaker system imaginable. It could be sweet.
  • Reply 6 of 60
    maccrazymaccrazy Posts: 2,657member
    I want decent quality speakers - or an audio-out please Apple.
  • Reply 7 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by lx-88

    PLEASE STEVE, don't turn MACworld into iPodWorld like it was last year with the shuffle. I want my intel powerbook!



    I have to echo that sentiment.



    I appreciate that the iPod is really boosting Apple at the moment, particularly during the move to Intel, but there's only so far that you can take the portable media player idea (video, wireless, radio, phone etc.) - sooner or later the competition will catch up, even with iTunes locking out other players.



    It's Macs that will drive the longterm growth of Apple. 40 million iPods sold is great news. If only it was 40 million Macs - what would that do to the share price?
  • Reply 8 of 60
    maccrazymaccrazy Posts: 2,657member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Gates_of_Hell

    I have to echo that sentiment.



    I appreciate that the iPod is really boosting Apple at the moment, particularly during the move to Intel, but there's only so far that you can take the portable media player idea (video, wireless, radio, phone etc.) - sooner or later the competition will catch up, even with iTunes locking out other players.



    It's Macs that will drive the longterm growth of Apple. 40 million iPods sold is great news. If only it was 40 million Macs - what would that do to the share price?




    MacWorld is for consumers - it is where they announce the products for the average Joe! Last year was on recap of iMac and retail, Tiger, iLife, iWork, Mac mini and the iPod shuffle - and the iPod shuffle was at the very end. Most of it was about Macs.



    I expect the same this time, half on iLife '06 and iWork '06 then new Mac hardware, maybe new software, and then iPod/iTunes announcement in the last quarter.



    Only 27 days to go!
  • Reply 9 of 60
    Whatever they bring out at MacWorld, whether it is Mac or iPod or something else, I trust Apple to create something new and different
  • Reply 10 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by SpamSandwich

    I'd much rather they focus on a home media center ala the iMac minus the computing platform, acting as server for movie downloads, streaming music, possibly even as a VoIP box?



    What do you mean "minus the computing platform"?



    I'm thinking Apple might be approaching it's products as 2 lines

    - OSX related

    - iPod and related (non-OSX) media products ("iPod companions")



    So imagine if Apple released a media centre that didn't have OSX - instead it runs FrontRow & Dashboard-Widgets, and can record and/or download TV shows... that, to me, would gel more with this rumour than the "Intel Mac Mini PVR" rumour.



    Just my thoughts.
  • Reply 11 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by GregAlexander

    What do you mean "minus the computing platform"?



    I'm thinking Apple might be approaching it's products as 2 lines

    - OSX related

    - iPod and related (non-OSX) media products ("iPod companions")



    So imagine if Apple released a media centre that didn't have OSX - instead it runs FrontRow & Dashboard-Widgets, and can record and/or download TV shows... that, to me, would gel more with this rumour than the "Intel Mac Mini PVR" rumour.



    Just my thoughts.




    I agree, a media center should be OS independant to attract as many conusmers as possible and expand the "halo effect" that is attributed to the iPod helping to expand the Mac market within the past year.
  • Reply 12 of 60
    The new Sony.
  • Reply 13 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Gates_of_Hell

    It's Macs that will drive the longterm growth of Apple.



    It hasn't for 21 years, why should we expect it to all of a sudden? Yes, there will be some "halo effect"...but that's it.
  • Reply 14 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by ricksbrain

    The new Sony.



    I actually think that is exactly right. Only, hopefully, even better. Sony plays in a lot of markets, Apple is just getting started. I'd like to see them diversify even more.
  • Reply 15 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Chris Cuilla

    I actually think that is exactly right. Only, hopefully, even better. Sony plays in a lot of markets, Apple is just getting started. I'd like to see them diversify even more.



    I'm on board with this comment. They need to keep capitalizing on the strength of iPod, but the gap is closing very quickly with the competition. Granted, the competition doesn't have the end-to-end consumer experience down yet, nor do they have the world-beating marketing to support their johnny-come-lately offerings, BUT I would sleep much easier at night with Apple extending the branch into new markets... for example, an Apple branded LCD HDTV offering (heck, Dell and HP offer these), Apple digital cameras... I dunno, Steve has all the cards, but I wish they'd start playing some more interesting hands.



    Fin!
  • Reply 16 of 60
    macworld is gonna be a circus for real! i'd really like to hear what kormac has to say nowadays. the timing is finally right!
  • Reply 17 of 60
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,983member
    Apple has to spread out. Every computer company is doing this.



    Look at Dell. You wouldn't think that they would need this, but they do.



    When one product line slows down because of business slowdown, then consumer goods generally keep steady, and the other way around.



    The other reason why computer manufacturers are doing this is because their computer margins are constantly being eroded. Many consumer electronics items have greater margins, so it helps to make up for it.



    Don't forget that many computer companies are rooted in consumer and industrial electronics. Toshiba, Sony, Phillips, Samsung, to name a few.



    If Apple can sustain a large profitable consumer business, then perhaps they can afford to lower their computer prices to better compete with the constantly lowered PC prices.



    Look at what we're seeing with laptops. They can be had for as little as $450 on sale. It's thought that even that price will be broken in 2006. Apple doesn't have to match that, but they do have to track. If we expect to see an Intel Mac iBook for $800, or even a bit lower, then if boomboxes and other fluff will help to allow it, that's fine by me.



    I'm hoping that Apple puts some brains on their monitor frontline. I would very much like to get a 30", but not without an HDMI connector. We are going to see that all hi def formats will not play through a monitor without HDMI. So if you buy a BR or HD disk, you will get the SD signal, but not the hi def signal.



    The same will be true for cable and satellite. As Apple is selling a LOT of the 30's (to pc gamers), people will be disappointed if it doesn't do hi def.



    Also, where is Apple's large flat screen monitor for the living room? I can practically guarantee that Apple would sell a lot of those .



    So, iPod enhancements, Large flat HDMI screens, a multimedia box of some sort, totally new design Intel boxes.



    Can anyone here say that it would NOT be a winning lineup?
  • Reply 18 of 60
    Quote:

    Originally posted by AppleInsider

    ...while others highlight expected iPod and audio/video service announcements.


    [ View this article at AppleInsider.com ]




    I hope this is right, because I've been waiting for the new voice recorder for a long time. Hopefully, I'll get the new iTrip for my birthday...
  • Reply 19 of 60
    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.



    My PC laptop has two broken hinges, and at the cost of repairing it and buying a new battery so it can be portable for another two years I'd have more than half the amount needed to buy the iBook I've been threatening to buy for so long. I'm waiting for the Intel titanium notebooks. On the one hand, I'd love the new year to start with a new computer, on the other, I'd rather have a quality product in June than a marketing tool in January.



    I think I'll play this one by ear, but either Apple won't live up to the ridiculous expectations of these 'market analysis professionals' or we'll be seeing some very shoddy products bearing the Apple logo. I don't want either of these to happen, but I worry.
  • Reply 20 of 60
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,983member
    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.



    My PC laptop has two broken hinges, and at the cost of repairing it and buying a new battery so it can be portable for another two years I'd have more than half the amount needed to buy the iBook I've been threatening to buy for so long. I'm waiting for the Intel titanium notebooks. On the one hand, I'd love the new year to start with a new computer, on the other, I'd rather have a quality product in June than a marketing tool in January.



    I think I'll play this one by ear, but either Apple won't live up to the ridiculous expectations of these 'market analysis professionals' or we'll be seeing some very shoddy products bearing the Apple logo. I don't want either of these to happen, but I worry.




    One doesn't have to have anything to do with the other. Engineering errors occur whether a company introduces one product or twenty. Each product has its own engineering team, and is subject to its own QC processes.



    Apple is a bigger company now, they can afford to come out with more products at once, and they have the profits so as not to have to do them on a shoestring.
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