Apple's upcoming US$1 billion data center could become the hub for an all-streaming broadcast network, says tech pundit Nike Carr, as reported by "InformationWeek" (http://www.informationweek.com/news/global-cio/interviews/showArticle.jh...). And I think an Apple home server could fit into the picture.
"Apple increasingly views its mainstream computers, from iPod Touch to iPhone to iPad to MacBook Air, as media players, with 'media' spanning not just audio and video but also apps," Carr wrote in an email. "From that perspective, the North Carolina data center can be seen as essentially a broadcasting system that will enable Apple to make the shift from a downloading model of media distribution to a streaming model. It's a proprietary broadcasting system (not altogether unlike traditional broadcasting systems), which means it's a very different model of the cloud from the open model promoted by Google."
He adds that, unlike Google, Apple has no desire to move everything into "the cloud" and feels a "hybrid environment" is best suited for Apple. Writing for "InformationWeek," Bob Evans opines that "we'll certainly see that hybrid model continue, but we'll also see a marked acceleration in the use of broadcast system or network that he describes because it eliminates a bit of friction in the transactional system and it plays to the real-time, zero-latency mindset that more and more consumers and even some businesses are beginning to demand."
I, too, think that Apple is eyeing a world where cloud storage is important, but realizes that people still want "possession," as opposed to streaming rights, of their media. And that's why I think Apple will eventually release its own dedicated, branded home server.
I think the server will sport wireless support for an iTunes master library with subsections for different users, the Airport Extreme (or perhaps one will simply be built in), the Apple TV and ports that let you plug-in phone, TV an data lines. The server will let you add or remove hard drives and will sync up/back up all the data on all your Apple devices (Macs, iPads, iPhones, iPods, etc.)
And, yes, I said hard drives. The server and Mac Pro will be the systems in which Apple will continue to emphasize hard drives, which can accommodate humongous amounts of storage. For its iMac, Mac mini and laptops -- as well as its iOS devices -- Apple will eventually go to all solid state drives. You'll mainly store your apps and system prefs on the devices and stream everything else (movies, music, photos, etc.) everything from the home server. Or store them on external hard drives for when you're on the go.
-- Dennis Sellers