The iTunes ecosystem is pretty amazing. It spans my exercise routine (iPod Nano), entertainment on a flight (my iPhone) and kicking back on the sofa for a movie (Apple TV). But there is another frontier that remains unserved. A frontier that is a prime media opportunity. The car.
There were some rumors a couple months ago about iCar. Apparently Apple met with Volkswagen to discuss who knows what. Perhaps we’ll see a black and silver VW bug coming out in future years that matches the iPhone aesthetic. (Just kidding, that’s ridiculous.) But the car is a media platform, and there are few good options.
I’ve had a Phatbox in my Audi A6 for a while now. I love it, but it’s a bit quirky. It also lacks two key features that really make it suffer. There is no WiFi so you have to undock it’s hard drive to add music, and no ability to integrate with iTunes. In fact, it doesn’t even have a Mac loader. A huge shout out to Cameron Silver though for creating PhatMac for us Mac users. PhatMac even integrates with iTunes Smart Playlists which is a start.
My proposal is simple. Take the guts of the Apple TV and shove it into a DIN unit for installation into a car. Then, on the front of the panel put a touch interface with coverflow like the iPhone and iPod Touch. Voila! Done. Really, there isn’t much more to it than that. This is what it could look like.
The Apple TV has the hard drive brains to sync with iTunes via WiFi. The only thing it lacks in a car is an interface. The touch interface of the iPhone is an ideal solution for the car. Fling, press, listen. Awesome. You can even have the touch interface itself easily snap off to protect from theft and maybe it could have 8G of storage locally to listen to something while your running an errand. How beautiful would this be? Pull into your garage and your car would show up in iTunes and get the latest podcasts and purchases copied to it. iTunes would also get new information to update play counts and last play times. I get excited just typing this stuff.
I know what your thinking, just dock your iPod with your car. That’s a hack. Seriously. When I shut my car off it’s crazy that I should then have to manually stop my music. The car platform is different and needs a couple of specific functions.
Apple has all the ingredients. It seems like a simple weekend project to tie it all together. But the market may not be big enough to care. I’d line up for this product myself.