Thoughts on design, strategy, and innovation.

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Frontrow: Apple's Real New Killer App

Both mainstream press and rumor sites have been flooded in the past weeks with speculation of the just released iPod video. In Jobsian style, Apple's CEO had flatly stated in the past that video is simply not something that would be worth adding to the iPod's capabilities. Well, Apple has delivered just that in what looks to be the perfect incremental upgrade to the line: a 60GB harddisk with the ability to play audio, photos and video all in the newly updated and fabulously sexy iPod, all for $299! I expect Apple to sell these like hotcakes. That said, it was another of today's product announcements from Apple that caught my attention in what I argue could represent living room consumer electronic's new "killer app": Frontrow.

Frontrow is a hardware remote (which looks remarkably like a Nano) and software combination which controls the iMac's audio, photo, video and some internet functionality in a full-screen mode. Apple describes it this way, "Dazzle your friends with an elegant full-screen media display. Front Row transforms an evening of home movies or TV shows into a blockbuster Hollywood premiere. Or preview actual Hollywood blockbusters from the trailer website. Press 'menu' on the new Apple Remote to let Front Row take center stage with large text, intuitive menus and brilliant graphics. No setup required." It is currently only available on the iMac.

Frontrow is just a generation away from being a DVD/Tivo-killing PVR in MacMini form. Adding a digital TV tuner, programmable recording and a remote with just a few more buttons to the current version would provide a level functionality which simply could not be matched by another company at this time. Getting the film industry on board to provide downloadable movies with DRM provided by Apple allows the both major and independent producers a complete new distribution method with the iPod video fitting in perfectly. Think of the possibilities Frontrow could offer with an integrated iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and .Mac account...

Cheers to Apple for showing what real innovation means.