Apple + Sony = ?

macminiIn October of 1999 I was watching a Steve Jobs keynote where he was introducing a new lineup of iMac’s. Jobs paid an atypical, reverent, and almost loving homage to Sony founder Akio Morita. At the time, it was crystal clear to me that he’d done an honorable thing — that was also good business.

Having worked myself for two Japanese companies (Pioneer Electronics and Panasonic Comm & Sys Co), I’m acutely aware of the deep and profound impact such an honorable and public tribute means to Japanese people (especially those who so revere someone of the stature of Akio Morita). Why was this good business? Sony is the closest company on the planet to Apple in innovation, design and aesthetics, Apple outsources all their manufacturing, and no other company could offer an innovator like Steve Jobs the ability to deliver unbeatable world-class products. If Steve Jobs had any intention of one day collaborating with Sony, it was good business to start the relationship strong.

I’ve thought about the introduction of the Mac mini and that it’s probably a product intended for its target: iPod owners who use PC’s but haven’t considered a Mac due to its expense. It also struck me as yet another example of good business — inviting up Sony President Kunitake Ando to speak to the assembled masses at MacWorld — but I instantly recognized it as a simple prelude to bigger things.

I think there are bigger things on the horizon…


I think there are bigger things on the horizon…and so do others.

When I was at the Consumer Electronics Show a couple of weeks ago and saw plasma and LCD TV’s everywhere, I was struck by the number of them that had Digital Video Interface (DVI) connectors in them. (A DVI connector allows a computer to be hooked up to them and, in effect, the TV becomes a gigantic computer display and a TV too!). When I saw the Mac mini, I immediately realized how simple it would be to connect it to audio/video components and a DVI-enabled TV for photo, music and video viewing. With Bluetooth wireless keyboards and mice, it is even simpler to do so.

Why does it make sense for Apple and Sony to come together on, say, an internet movie site similiar to the iTunes music store? Since Apple will be releasing QuickTime 7 in their next operating system release called Tiger using the industry standard H.264 protocol (and I’ve seen some *incredible* scaling and quality video demo’s), it’s pretty clear to me that this collaboration will provide consumers with the ability to download or stream quality videos or movies on demand — via the internet instead of DirecTV or cable.

If you were Sony, who better to partner with than the company whose technology lies at the heart of the H.264 standard?  A company who has out-innovated the inventor of the category-killer called the Walkman? A computer and software company that has put *all* the pieces together in one, easy-to-use and synchronized suite of integrated products for video, photos and audio? A company led by a man that has revolutionized the making of animated movies with his side-job (Pixar)?

Apple + Sony = Convergence

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About Steve Borsch

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