Friday, May 1, 2009

Apple To Adopt XBox Strategy In

Microsoft's senior director of business, insights, and strategy for XBox has taken a position at Apple. A 15-year Microsoft veteran, Richard Teversham will reportedly take an education-related role in Apple's European office.

Apple's platform's easy facility with multiple languages, fonts, entry of oddball characters not in the user's ordinary keyboard map (ich k├Ânnte nie Umlauts auf dem Compaq machen), and its strengths in localization all seem to make it an attractive tool for European users, who are likelier than American users to want to create documents in multiple languages and to have users in their organization using different keyboard mappings. The new tech that might be part of a new Apple .edu push is more speculation than analysis, but makes interesting thinking.

If the .edu rumor is wrong, Teversham might in fact be involved in developing Apple's push as a gaming platform vendor. The move to Intel machines and standard graphics cards makes this easier to argue from the desktop perspective; the development of APIs to better leverage multiprocessing potential of multi-CPU/multi-GPU/coprocessor-enhanced hardware suggests Apple might seriously intend seducing high-end box-buyers with horsepower-at-the-rear-wheel measurements; and Apple's handhelds are selling an awful lot of games for a fairly weak computational device. The potential for Apple to pull another iPod -- find a niche it can dominate and grow -- using entertainment or education as its new backdrop seems at least a curiosity.

Imagine for a moment an iTunes section with textbooks for notepads. Schools would not face sunk costs for textbook purchases (remember how quickly sociology books became obsolete when it became clear the Tasaday tribe was a hoax?), but could buy updates as needed for durable machines that would support links in reference footnotes and the ability to zoom in on maps and all kinds of other features not available in ordinary textbooks (including electronic submission of time-stamped homework). Textbook publishers would race not to get frozen out of this platform, and Apple would soon have the world's largest academic bookstore.

Ahh, but then I wake up. Apple isn't going to make a tablet, is it? Everybody knows there's no money in that niche ....

But back to entertainment: in the original iPhone developer's kit demo, Apple mentioned iPhone supported 5.1 surround sound, and one of the demonstrated apps was a space-based fighter pilot game involving asteroids and other obstacles that could approach the player's virtual position in three dimensions. Apple may not have yet figured out how to take the living room, but it's clear Apple wants to do so -- where else does one expect to find a 5.1 surround setup? Apple simply hasn't yet figured out where the keystone is.

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