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November 22, 2002

iServe resurfaces

Proof that great minds think alike: SpamDude links to my post on the iServe. He had posted a similar idea, focusing on an enhanced Airport Base Station, way back in October, and expanded on it earlier this week.

I've thought some more about what would motivate me to buy an iServe:

  • Integration with entertainment systems: Including Tivo functionality, a sound-out capability for streaming music over your home speakers

  • Integration with X10 and other home-control systems (thermostat, lights, security system, etc.)

  • Built-in hooks to the client OS: when you create a new user, it allows you to specify a home directory on your iServe, where user-installed apps, new documents, and iApp data (iTunes music, iPhoto pics, etc.) are saved by default

  • Clever backup mechanism. This is one of the most expensive components of a server. Apple can inexpensively provide backup to their .Mac online service, but I would love to see a tape drive or DVD-R option for personal, off-line backups

  • Internal sharing of calendar and contact information, with an option to share elements to the web

  • Speaking of the web, it should understand how to setup a dynamic DNS entry at one or more of the services (dyndns, no-ip, etc.), so you can easily host a site over home broadband, even with DHCP

  • Weblog software built-in, so you can turn it on and start a family (or class, or business) weblog immediately

I honestly think this is a great business opportunity for somebody. It's similar to what Cobalt is trying to do, but with an emphasis on the consumer rather than the dot-com market.

If you have opinions, please share -- I think this is a very interesting thread....

Update: I notice SpamDude mentioned the telephone, as well, I would love to have simple answering machine capabilities built into a home server, so it could call me with my messages, e-mail me that I have one, or (if my server is visible on the web), let me listen to an mp3 of the message over the web.

Another update: More on the idea from September 2003.

November 22, 2002 in Apple - General, iServe and home servers | Permalink

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» the mac mini as a personal server from Jonathan Boutelle's home on the net
A large number of people on the internets are craving the new Mac Mini - the $500 “headless mac”, unveiled at Macworld two days ago - trying to figure out what the business implications are and the role the Mini... [Read More]

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» the mac mini as a personal server from Jonathan Boutelle's home on the net
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Comments

Hi Frank,

I completely agree with you that the integration with entertainment systems, as well as a clever backup mechanism would be key to the iServe:

  • The first feature is a hot topic that people would really like to have; it's also something that could convince 'not-so-experienced' users of buying a server (without the need to care about what a server).

  • The second feature is something every computer user should have. However, there are not many elegant backup solutions available that are not terribly expensive and it's usually up the user user to set them up. A clever backup mechanism 'out of the box' could therefore convince more experienced users as well to have a look at iServe.
  • In addition to that, dynamic DNS setup in combination with a well-designed software for weblog publishing (personally, I would prefer a 'iApp' like interface such as the one provided by iBlog) would be another great feature, especially because it would help to further 'democratise' the creation of content. This would provide Apple with a new Marketing opportunity as for example suggest by Stephan van Esch.

    Cheers,
    Alex

    Posted by: Alex at Nov 23, 2002 2:42:31 AM

    from http://paulbeard.no-ip.org/movabletype/archives/000553.html#000553


    This is an interesting concept and one I think Apple can pull off, through a combination of a household friendly form factor (cooler running PowerPCs are quieter and can fit into places where boxes with fans can't) and a well-designed UI to manage all the services. They could easily use webmin as a basis for most of that and it would be a great showcase for Rendezvous and slp.

    I think iServe is a great idea: rather than TiVO capability, I'd rather see Internet radio/satellite radio capability. The built-in video displays some of the crazy modders have added would be a requirement as well.

    I think it would need to possibly include an Airport base station's functionality with wireless and two network interfaces: ideally, you want it to replace an existing system that isn't as useful or fill a need for multiple devices with this one.

    Form factors? How about a wall-mount to be near the DSL or cable connection? Something the height of a hardcover book (remember the old IIci/cx machines?) to fit on a shelf would also work.

    And since it would be a server with minimal graphics/UI needs, it wouldn't have to be the fastest box: my gateway/webserver/print server is the slowest I have at 233 MHz. But lots o' disk and a combo drive would be essential.

    Think they can get it out by Christmas?

    Posted by: paul at Nov 24, 2002 10:55:16 PM