The Lite Side

The Amazing WiFi iPod/Mac mini Combo-Pak™

- 2006.04.25

In the history of the Lite Side, we've made a number of prognostications that, upon 20-20 hindsight and careful filtering out of our wrong predictions, turn out to be 100% on the mark.

When we asked for a headless iMac for education, Apple listened and released the Mac mini. When we said we wanted to surrender and join the two-button mouse crowd as the (former) Last Official Holdout for the One-Button Mouse™, Apple listened to us again and produced the Mighty Mouse.

When we declared Apple would make a giant hemispherical iMac out of a 1000" projection screen, a planetarium, and a Volkswagen Beetle, Apple ignored us completely, so just forget I brought that one up.

And today? Rumor sites are abuzz, pundits are punditerizing (or is it pundetizing?), and even the mainstream media is taking a break from suppressing the conservative elites to speculate on

Apple's Next Great Big Thing That We Predicted
But Get No Credit For and Our Predictions for Its Future

or, to have mercy on Our Dear Editor,

The Amazing Mac Combo-Pak™

Consider these facts:

  1. Steve Jobs wants to sell Macs more than . . . well, more than anything. More than iPods, more than Pixar movies, and more than getting free latté grandes in the Apple cafeteria.
  2. iPods are selling decently but growth rates have slowed, so pundits are calling for an update.
  3. Right now, media convergence is still big, with TV shows on the iTunes Music Store, Front Row software to control your home entertainment center, and so on.

I put these in the Lite Side's Giant Blender of Truth, and it disgorged Apple's Next Great Big Thing:

The iPod WiFi/Mac mini Combo-Pak™!

This is an iPod/Mac mini combination that sells as a single package and includes the following new features:

  • Both devices come with Bluetooth and/or WiFi as an user-selectable feature. WiFi is touted as better, though.
  • The iPod can not only be used in the normal fashion, but it can serve as a remote control for the mini.
  • A new feature of the new iPod is that it can synchronize with an iPod shuffle without having a Macintosh involved. This will require a cable, however, as "Apple has no plans to release an iPod Shuffle WiFi."
  • Synchronizing your music collection now means just walking into the same room.

The mini includes an integrated iPod dock, soon to become standard on all Macs, although desktop models will have the cradle hidden behind a door.

  • The iPod WiFi can receive streaming video from the mini, including input from a live cable connection feeding into the mini - and the mini can receive video from the iPod.
  • The mini will come with a licensed version of TiVo software that turns the mini into a TiVo. Apple wins, TiVo wins, the consumer wins. Now you can keep watching your show when you go to get snacks from the kitchen. Or you can download TiVo'ed shows onto your iPod and watch them on the road. (Yes, there will be a monthly fee for accessing TiVo's program database.)
  • The announcement will include a new feature that allow you to plug the iPod into a cradle in some cars and watch iPod video on the car's built-in video system.
  • Rumors that the next iPod will include a built-in iSight camera and record directly to the iPod's pictures folder are unsubstantiated. Steve Jobs says he does not think he wants to compete with commodity cell phones.

Two weeks later, the iPod WiFi with iSight will be released, and Jobs will declare, "Now you can take convenient pictures and not pay your cell phone service provider for the privilege of uploading them. Synchronizing your own equipment has always been, and will always be, free for Apple customers."

The Future of the Combo-Pak™

On the downside, the Combo-Pak™ will be priced at $999 initially, which will be considered overpriced by many.

Pundits will decry the lack of a channel selector and built-in FM tuner, but Griffin will supply these as add-ons within a month.

The new software will not run on older machines such as the recently released Intel mini, which will anger new adopters. This will counterbalance the good karma obtained by adding the new features and keep Apple in a state of harmonic balance.

Apple Corps will again sue Apple Computer on the basis that their original agreement didn't say anything about transmission of digital music via wireless links between equipment not directly connected to the Internet.

Within three months, Samsung will come out with an expanded-feature knockoff priced at less than $100 that includes several of the basic features of the Combo-Pak™ and includes over 7,000 new functions not included in the Combo-Pak™'s feature list. Among these functions will be "Scan for WMF viruses", which will reveal to the world that WMF files can be used to infect PCs simply by listening to them.

By this time next year, the Combo-Pak™ will be reduced in price to $799, which Rob Enderle will still call overpriced, and Robert X. Cringely (not that one, the other one) will declare that Apple intends to make the Combo-Pak™ bootable using nothing more than a plugged in keyboard and mouse in the using a USB adapter that plugs into the iPod's dock (not included - available at the Apple Store for $59.)

Prognostication Accuracy

Remember, we have a pretty good track record here at the Lite Side: 100% Prognostication Accuracy when you leave out the giant igloo iMac and a couple [dozen - ed.] other misfires.

When the Combo-Pak™ goes on sale next year, just remember you read it here first.

P.S. It won't be called Combo-Pak™. No, that's too Walmart for Apple. It'll be something cute and punny that includes the basic idea: the iMerge or the miniPod or something like that. Then some guy who owns a miniPod website will get all flustered about it, lawsuits will ensue, Apple will have its way and win the case (ironically) citing this article as evidence of prior art.

As for me, I'll get a check for 50 iTMS bucks, and I'll use it to buy a series of obscure Bavarian folk-tunes. And a T-shirt. And an Apple sticker for my car to replace the one that's all scratched up.

The sticker's scratched, not the car. Actually, the car's scratched, too. Maybe I'll put the sticker on the scratches. Yeah, that's it. That's the ticket.

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