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No. of Recommendations: 17
Goofyhoofy raised a good question about what Apple might go next. It occurred to me that they have shown a pretty distinct pattern outside of the computer area:

Fix what sucks


Jobs has found electronic devices that work badly, are ugly, and make our lives more difficult. Think about it:

1) iPod: MP3 players that preceeded it were ugly, didn't hold enough songs, were slow to upload to, and irritating to navigate through. FIXED with iPod

2) Music management software: Before iTunes, music management software were poorly designed. Intuitive things were made difficult. There was excessive attention to techie things that most non-geeks didn't care about, like bit rate, format, etc. FIXED with iTunes

3) Music downloading: I honestly don't think Steve cared much about Naptster, Limewire, etc. being illegal. I think he was mainly disgusted by how bad they were. It was difficult to find songs. You would sometimes download songs and find that they were either poor quality or not what you thought. The interface was nasty. FIXED with iTunes Music Store

4) TV Shows: It was irritating that we had to watch TV shows at the time they are shown, or go through the painful process of recording on VHS. The only half solution was TIVO, which is nice, but not cheap. Why should I buy a TIVO when I already have a computer? What about shows I can't get because they are no longer played? FIXED with iTunes Music Store v2

5) Home media management: Now that I have all of these TV shows, movies, songs, ripped DVDs, etc., how to handle them. It sucks to watch a movie on a 12" MacBook screen when my big TV is staring at me jealously across the room. FIXED @TV.

6) Mobile phones: Cell phones such SO MUCH! How can predictive text be so idiotically bad? My Moto KRZR usually produces complete gobbledygook that aren't even words! WTF? Why do I have to click through so many screens to look at my own phone number? Why do I need to listen to my voicemail in order? Why do I need to carry a phone AND an iPod? FIXED iPhone.

I think that this is the way to think about new products. Ask yourself "What sucks?" You could argue that digital cameras and dig video cameras suck. Home data management sucks (e.g. controlling heating/cooling, etc)--don't think Apple will go there though. Sorry, I don't have good applications of the formula in mind, but I think that is it.

Here is a short term one: It sucks that I need to know what protocol of voice/data communications I am using. iPhone should seamlessly switch between GSM, Wi-Fi, etc. without me having to know about it. Basically, we need better iChat integration.
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No. of Recommendations: 3
Maybe next, Steve will fix the flashing 12:00 on my VCR?
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No. of Recommendations: 4
Maybe next, Steve will fix the flashing 12:00 on my VCR?

For the life of me, I don't understand why so many products are devoid of a cheap little capacitor, just large enough to hold time memory 2 secs.

Considering the length of 99.9% of all power losses, that would eliminate re-programming 99.99999999% of the time power is lost. If Apple fixes things that suck, this would be the first on my list for them to fix.
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No. of Recommendations: 10
Fix what sucks...

I think you hit the nail on the head. Steve Jobs has a major thing about products that suck.

I was a little surprised by what was not on your list of commercial products that sucked before Steve came along to offer something different. Prior to the items that you listed, there were a few little items:

1. Ancient pre-IBM microcomputers were very poorly integrated, with poor or non-existent graphics. Steve's solution: the Apple II.

2. The command-line user interface of the original MS-DOS operating system sucked the hairy wazoo in so many ways I hardly know where to start. Steve's solution (adapted from Xerox): the Lisa OS, later renamed the Macintosh OS.

3. IBM personal computers (and their many clones) lacked a way to jump the cursor from one part of the screen to another. Steve's solution (borrowed from Xerox): the mouse.

4. PC software for drawing pictures was so bad, this post will be pulled if I describe it truthfully. Steve's solution: MacPaint.

5. PC software for maintaining lists of notes and addresses was painfully hard to use. Steve's solution: HyperCard.

6. Apple Computer refused to contemplate adopting the Unix OS as the basis for a secure multi-tasking MacOS, and fired Jobs when he insisted. Steve's solution: the Next Computer, whose OS was later sold back to Apple when they finally realized who had been right all along.

7. Despite valiant efforts by many talented people, Hollywood was still locked into the Disney way of creating animations. Steve's solution: Pixar Films, now worth billions.

Did I leave anything out?

Loren
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No. of Recommendations: 0
Interesting that you both left out:

1) Ripping films sucks. It's nowhere near as easy as ripping CDs, and we all know it could be.

2) Capturing AV content for later use sucks.

3) Connecting Audio components sucks.

My god, can you imagine how nice it would be if all your AV equipment would connect via one digital cable to handle 5.1/7.1 channels of audio and control signals? Firewire was supposed to solve this, but it didn't. Instead we're still left with that snakes nest of RCA cables. I've been an audiophile for a couple of decades, so it doesn't bother me all that much, but it does suck.

Somehow I don't expect Apple to solve these problems for us, but it sure would be nice.

(Pixar/Disney/Apple connection creates a conflict of interest re ease of use for DVD ripping e.g. Pixar profits from peanut buttery 4 year old fingers rending DVDs unusable.)

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"For the life of me, I don't understand why so many products are devoid of a cheap little capacitor, just large enough to hold time memory 2 secs."

Well they often did - it's the longer glitches that snafu the clock (or just the cheesier designed products). But I hear ya - I too often can't believe the half hearted design efforts of a lot of consumer products (and no, it's not always a cost issue as much as a don't give a &^%# attitude of the company - obviously something Apple leverages).

FWIW New DVD recorders auto pick off the real time code from CC headers that include it (at least my $59 dollar Samsung does). So, no clock & cal programming nor manual clock re-syncing required (though it gives the manual set option should you be using it without hook up to cable or antenna).
B
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"3) Connecting Audio components sucks.
My god, can you imagine how nice it would be if all your AV equipment would connect via one digital cable to handle 5.1/7.1 channels of audio and control signals?"


Yes, I can imagine it - it's called HDMI ;-)
It's not just a video interface and all the new surround sound amps/processors, have it (at least the nicer proactive designed ones for home theater do) as do S3 Tivos, many Progressive DVD/CD players, and of course many HD Displays . So it's there for the buying - Once connection and you're done*
And fiber optic audio wasn't bad either (no ground loops).

"Firewire was supposed to solve this, but it didn't."

Yea, it's somewhat too bad. Politics. Apple didn't help by initially wanting licensing...and then later other format std setters wanted cuts from adopter's of media transport stds but anyway it's all history now & seems dead compared to HDMI especially now that HDCP is commonplace and an agreed upon DRM std. (required in many situations).

At some point we may miss those DRM-free RCA & XLR cable hassles ;-)
B

*Speakers aside - though RF connected speakers a new market entry too.
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Yes, I can imagine it - it's called HDMI ;-)
It's not just a video interface and all the new surround sound amps/processors, have it (at least the nicer proactive designed ones for home theater do) as do S3 Tivos, many Progressive DVD/CD players, and of course many HD Displays . So it's there for the buying - Once connection and you're done*
And fiber optic audio wasn't bad either (no ground loops).

"Firewire was supposed to solve this, but it didn't."


I have my DVD hooked up via HDMI now, and my receiver has a digital link as well. My cable clutter is now pretty manageable. Replace my DTV box with an HD one, and I'll be pretty happy ;)
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No. of Recommendations: 4
I think that this is the way to think about new products. Ask yourself "What sucks?"

Professional sports referees often suck, I'm not sure if Apple could help in this area. There were a few terrible calls in the Patriots/Colts game today for example.
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No. of Recommendations: 1
"Fix what sucks."

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned... health insurance. Yeah, I know, not electronic. But, it does suck. And there is a fortune for whoever figures it out.
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"I'm surprised nobody has mentioned... health insurance. Yeah, I know, not electronic. But, it does suck. And there is a fortune for whoever figures it out. "

The slogan is obvious then: Apple a day keeps the doctor away! Yeah!
The key/value-added would be in Health AND Fitness offerings as a prime offering & not just the afterthought usually given to prevention. Yes, there is a fortune for whoever figures it out as a business and for needy consumers.

Ok, back to monitoring important board nits, picks, and anecdotes. ;-)
B
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