Let the battle for the living room begin

When Apple announced the launch of the iPad a few months ago, most of us were talking about how it seemed to be an oversized iPhone that could, in the longer-term, possibly also compete in the eBook market. Even though there didn't seem to be a lot in terms of functionality, it has still gone on to create unprecedented levels of demand worldwide. Honestly, I think Apple has only scratched the surface so far in terms of demand and applications for the iPad.

The bigger demand generator for the iPad will most likely be in terms of what more it can do in the living room and, consequently, which other products in your living room could become obsolete in the future. Apple till now has broken barriers by redefining who it competes with every few years to the extent that it has virtually wiped out the market for alarm clocks, stop watches, calculators, and portable CD and DVD players within a short span of years.

However, Apple seems intent to probably go head-to-head with the likes of home theatre manufacturers, HIFI system manufacturers, desktop DVD player producers, mainstream broadcasters, gaming consoles brands, home automation manufacturers and possibly, companies producing domestic lighting switches and dimmers.

With the iPad now being able to download movies and music on a 64GB built-in memory, it seems only natural that you could find yourself watching the content that you downloaded onto a wide-screen LCD, LED, Plasma or 3D TV in your living room. The interface would probably be wireless so there would be no mess connecting the iPad to the television.

While observing your download patterns, your iPad will push content onto it's memory and tell you what to watch. This could mean that your monthly subscription for satellite or cable TV may become obsolete since all your sitcoms or reality shows will be on iPad. In the meantime, with Apple announcing the launch of iAd, some of this content could become free or Apple may charge you a flat monthly fee as the rest of their income will be supplemented by the advertising revenue that iAd generates for them.

If you are planning a party, then the iPad will connect wirelessly to your 5.1 channel speaker system and thus replace all your other audio players. Want to have a night of Karaoke; the iPad could probably do that as well. All you need with the iPad are speakers and a subwoofer.

The iPad could also become the instrument you use to dim your lights, close your blinds and control your air-conditioning. With the majority of home automation devices being beyond the reach of most consumers, the iPad could take this mass market by making it easy to install and greatly bring down the technology acquisition costs – replacing a lot of the market for home automation controllers that are currently expensive and seen only in the homes of the wealthy.

For those who aren't avid gamers because they don't find value in buying a gaming console, the iPad could change this much like the iPhone has. With a bigger screen or the ability to connect to television, the iPad could be what makes the casual gamer into a compulsive gamer, especially with the huge variety of titles from leading software developers on the iTunes store, some of which are free and some of which are chargeable.

A lot of this may not happen this month or this year, but this looks to be the way the iPad could develop. With most of the competition for the iPad at the moment being mainly laptop or smart phone manufacturers, it will be interesting to see if any of them can get applications for the living room faster to the market than Apple can.

The author is Chief Operating Officer of Jacky's Electronics. The views expressed are his own


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