In the world of service providers, the last few years have been defined by a struggle to capture the home triple play: Selling consumers internet, phone, and TV services in one package, with Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast all offering deals to buy all three services. Meanwhile, Apple has worked diligently to define a new triple play of its own. Apple is now closer than ever to offering a unique combination of home computing, back-end web support, and entertainment services.
The New Triple Play
- Home Computing: Apple already has a strong line of laptop, desktop, and tablet computers.
- Back-End Web Support: Through MobileMe, Apple is offering an impressive back-end web support to front-end apps like mail and calendar, including backing up web links and photos.
- Entertainment Services: Apple TV has been improved and is now seeking to become the home's de facto "media server."
My home has 10 Apple devices, all linked. Imagine the potential.On the software side, Apple has become a true competitor to Microsoft's Exchange, the current industry standard for email, contacts, and calendar. Not only are the corporate IT folks allowing iPhones in, they are even embracing Apple and its programs. Apple has also made reading (and storing) email a true cloud-based offering, allowing users to read their email on the iPhone, a desktop Mac, or through the web on me.com. And yet, that's not all. Apple is backing up your heaviest and more vulnerable data as Apple devices synch music, videos, and photos. With the iPad, Apple started a new trend--it introduced an almost fully capable, mobile version of Keynote (a competitor to PowerPoint), Pages (a competitor of Word), and Numbers (a competitor of Excel). So now we are talking about a mobile version of Microsoft Office for $30. And everything will get fully synched sooner or later. As it moves forward with its own version of triple play, Apple will not only expand its synching and back-up capabilities, it will also need to "put to sleep" an old dog, iTunes. My iPad has both App Store and iTunes and I can't stand either. These are the least polished, un-user-friendly, unlovable products Apple ever made. They're the Achilles heel of their triple play story. For Apple to conquer the home computing and entertainment markets, it must develop a new app that brings together browsing, buying, and storing of media and applications with a true Apple flair. Once it has done so and with its new server farm capability, Apple will be in a unique position. It will offer traditional computing (its version of Microsoft Office), entertainment content, personal archiving (backing up of photos, videos, files), and web-based synching and applications on mobile and stationery computers in multiple forms (desktop, laptop, TV, tablet, iPod, and iPhone). This is a formidable combination that no one can match. Today my home has about 10 Apple computing devices linked, backed-up, and web-connected through MobileMe. Imagine the potential. Imagine adding two to three TV-like devices, more storage, more synching, and more web services. Just add the numbers and we may be talking about a company with $300 billion in annual sales. And that's before small businesses decide to jump ship and dump Microsoft for this very tangible Triple Play. [Top image via Wallpaper Stock]