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November 10, 2002

Xserve minus = iServe

Update: Since Apple still hasn't introduced an iServe, I expanded on the idea in September 2003. Click here to see that post.

The Xserve has been available for almost a year now, and it's gotten good reviews as a workgroup server, with simple administration, good price-performance ratio, and terrific performance on AltiVec-friendly processes like Genentech's BLAST. They're likely due for a freshening, now that the top-of-the-line Power Macs have faster processors and the early adopters have all bought theirs.

The lowest-cost Xserves go for $2,999, and they're the first Apple machine to adhere to data-center standards for rackmounting, like all the competitive servers.

Apple has built an interesting product line, where you can (or have to) choose between the consumer models -- the iMacs and iBooks -- and the pro lines -- PowerMacs and PowerBooks. Why not extend that model to the Xserve, introducing a consumer-oriented iServe?

More and more homes have multiple machines and a home network. Just about all of those have issues sharing resources, whether that's just a printer, an MP3 library, digital photos saved on multiple machines, or a family web server that gets content from multiple machines. Why not introduce a product, the iServe, that could bring all those resources together?

Such a product would bring the server to the consumer market, and could naturally be the mail server, backup server, firewall, file and print server, and web and domain server for a household. Throw in an easy-to-use web filtering package to do net nanny duties, and parents would line up.

Depending on the price target, this could take the form of anything from a network-attached-storage (NAS) box, with very little processing power (with a 100 Gb drive for $499), to a fast G3 in a small form factor case (Cube, anyone?) with a minimal video card for $999. These are products that would appeal to the Apple faithful, but also to switchers, who presumably still have the PC around somewhere, and could use a server to facilitate data and resource sharing.

Of course, you can run most of the software that would make the iServe special on a PowerMac, but I think a lot of people would rather centralize shared information, and the iServe would also attract education and small business customers who might be put off by the Xserve's price and who don't have 19-inch racks in which to mount one. In my house, I use a Linux box in a similar role (it's serving you this page), partly because the nicest Mac in the house is a PowerBook, so it isn't always available.

To make this a total home run, include TiVo-like functionality, allowing the server to capture TV and stream it on demand to clients anywhere on the network.

November 10, 2002 in Apple, Apple - Xserve, iServe and home servers | Permalink

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» the iServe? from inluminent/weblog
Frank ponders the idea of an Apple branded consumer level server that he's dubbed the iServe. Interestlingly enough, this is [Read More]

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» Apple iServe from spamdude.com
Another thought about an Apple iServe, via Nicest of the Damned: Depending on the price target, this could take the form of anything from a network-attached-storage (NAS) box, with very little processing power (with a 100 Gb drive for $499), to a fast ... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 22, 2002 1:17:42 PM

» Hey, I'm in Chemistry! from Among Other Things
BBspot Reviews: Bubba Ho-tepJohn Ritter diesJohnny Cash dies, tooI have no words for this. Just listen.iServe == Xserve--;VH1's awesomely bad dictatorsMicrosoft-Antritrust.gov opens for public... [Read More]

Tracked on Sep 12, 2003 11:49:18 AM

» Hey, I'm in Chemistry! from Among Other Things
BBspot Reviews: Bubba Ho-tepJohn Ritter diesJohnny Cash dies, tooI have no words for this. Just listen.iServe == Xserve--;VH1's awesomely bad dictatorsMicrosoft-Antritrust.gov opens for public... [Read More]

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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
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

I like it! An extension of the Digital Hub concept, but good thinking nonetheless. I say "TiVo-like functionality" would make it a sure hit, especially for about the same price. (Or course, I've wondered why Apple doesn't already have TiVo-like software for OS X.) The MP3 library would be a popular use. I don't think an Airport base should be built in because many early adopters will already have an Airport, others just won't want it, and the base station (antenna) might need to go in a different location than the iServe. Multi-platform issues make support a headache, though, especially for print serving.

Posted by: john at Nov 12, 2002 12:09:29 AM

Sounds like Frank is dropping a plug for a new Ti book for home! :) Wonder if his wife reads this stuff....

Posted by: Shane Anglin at Nov 12, 2002 12:37:05 PM