itunes and the wider mac eco system

in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Would be interested in any comments/solutions for this issue:

To set the scene, lets assume you are a typical Apple fan, bought in to the digital "i" lifestyle. Lets assume you have a number of macs in the household:

1. a powerhouse machine that holds your digital content, where you do whatever you are into (music, photos, films etc) - this may act as a server for the house - storing films which stream to Apple TV and music to airport express boxes plugged in to stereos around the house (eg tier 1 machine).

2. some other machines - macbook air for you, mac books for the wife and kids etc. Which you use to run your ilife - own photos, diaries, emails etc (eg tier 2 machine).

3. various Ipods and iphones that sync to a variety of these machines. (eg tier 3 machine)

In a jobsian view of the world this will become a common scenario - particularly with the introduction of the macbookair - a machine that will be ideal to carry a subset of your digital content wioth you when you are out and about - but will also have complete functionality to add to it when you are out of the house.

Increasingly people will build up large digital libararies that will be too big for the remote machines/form factors people will want to use on a day to day basis, different subsets of which will need to be shared across different machines.

The question is - how do you keep everything up to date on your server when you get back home?

It should work as follows:

1. Synchronisation between the tier 1 machine/server and the tier 2 macbookair in itunes.

The macbookair should work with the home machine like an ipod does - keeping playlists in sync. This should also work in reverse - anything new that appears on the macbookair should be copied back to the home machine (same as itunes purchases on a iphone).

2. Ipods/iphones could be synchronised to the tier 2 machine or tier 3 machine.

This method would comply with existing DRM (if less than 5 machines).

Examples where this would improve the experience / save time:

1.My wife buys the latest Amy Winehouse album on her iphone in Starbucks. Next time she syncs her phone with her macbook it will be copied back as usual. When she gets back home her macbook can be synced to the server - available for me to sync back to my machine or for everyone to listen to when they are at home.

2. My macbook air syncs with the server at home to make sure any unwatched movies are always on it. I watch one on a flight. Next time I get home and run a sync it is removed from the hard drive.

3. At the airport on the way back home I buy an episode of Family Guy to watch on my macbook and a couple of new CD's. When I get home these are synced back to the server for everyone to enjoy.

All of this is possible under existing DRM rules but is a painful manual process. I think this is becoming a real issue. If you really buy-in to the Apple ecosystem then linking all of the machines in the household in this way creates network economies of scale. I know software like slingshot can do this but it is a bit clunky and this functionality should be part of the core itunes software.

I think a more streamlined system that delivers this will be key and will remove pressure on storage space in subnotebooks that will increase the move to smaller form factors and solid state devices.

Would like to know what everyone thinks on this - or what the potential solution is if exists already.
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