Big Data TV – Was This Steve Jobs’ Next Breakthrough?

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Tim O’Reilly appeared on theCube earlier this year and made a remark about Apple’s killer app. He said it was the app store. Why? It’s the data that is in those apps that draws people. This network of mobile apps and services gave people a community that refreshed their confidence in technology. Why? It actually worked.

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Steve Jobs knew the power of this data. Though not often talked about, he had quietly been building an infrastructure to support a data stream that would need to fuel trillions of transactions and data loads by the petabyte. Apple has also been recruiting Apache Hadoop professionals to find new ways to leverage the data it collects.

Jobs’ knew that Apple had to move beyond the iPad and to the last disrupted entertainment device.

The TV.

TV is the next big thing for Apple. It will serve as the last impression from Jobs’ on future products and services.

To develop a big data television service, Apple is building out its data center infrastructure at a cost of an estimated $2 billion. That investment is needed to change the iTunes model. Credit card transactions will change. Downloads are like the single core equivalent of the legacy server environment. Transactions could be managed in a simple, data scarce world on servers that did nothing but serve downloads.  Streaming is the equivalent to the mulit-tenant world on multi-core servers. Data is now plentiful and far more easier to stream.  It flows across a mesh environment. Netflix has proven this. Jobs recognized this trend and had his sights on developing the living room equivalent of the iPad. This will require a sophisticated billing system that places a cost on the service not the downloadable object.

The signs are already there. Apple has invested significantly in Fusion-io, a network attached flash storage play designed to bypass the bottleneck of traditional hard disk drives.

Services Angle

The company designed its own processors for the iPad. You know they will follow the same path with an Apple TV service. The data center environment will be optimized for data delivery and the device will make the experience seamless.

Big data is the future, not hardware. Jobs recognized that and saw it as the next major breakthrough.