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Is Apple completing Microsoft’s 3 screens and a cloud strategy with the final piece of the puzzle – Apple iTV?

Back in 2009, Steve Balmer introduced Microsoft’s new strategy of “three screens and a cloud” – namely the mobile screen, the PC screen, and the TV screen, all interlinked together by a unifying cloud. Let’s take a step sideways and looking at what Apple has done over the past few years, and my personal prediction of Apple’s strategy going forward into the future.

Apple started with their foray into mobile screen way back Steve Jobs introduced the iPod back in 2001, which created a big disruption over the music industry. Apple then introduced the iTunes Store 2 years later in 2003, creating the first music store online disrupting the entire online sales space, laying the foundation of the largest most successful online content store in history coupled together with their hot-selling iPod devices.

In 2007, Apple went into the fragmented mobile phones space by introducing a revolutionary iPhone 2G that introduced a unique interaction with your phone – purely touch. A year later, Apple introduced the “App Store” for the iPhone, piggy-backing the highly successful iTunes Store, growing the apps ecosystem in the mobile phone space.

All the while doing that, Apple innovated and revolutionized the MacBook line by introducing the MacBook Air – the first super thin and light mobile laptop computing system that got everyone in the industry scrambling to imitate Apple, unsuccessfully.

Not only that, Apple introduced a new screen form factor, the iPad recently in 2010, which provided a different experience yet maintaining the familiar iOS user experience together with the apps eco-system that comes with the iPhone.

Also in 2010, Apple introduced the newest 2nd generation Apple TV, coupling streaming video service into a lightweight and cheap USD$99 device. Google has already forayed into this space too with Google TV, but unsuccessfully at doing any damage to the existing TV eco-system.

Going forward in a few weeks time, iCloud will be released publicly which Apple has time and again failed their MobileMe cloud strategy. The iCloud will be synchronizing all your content like photos, music, videos, documents, contacts, calendar, mail and apps to your iPhone, iPad, Macs.

So where am I getting at? Does this sound familiar to you? Doesn’t it sound like Microsoft’s “three screens and a cloud” strategy? Apple has captured the mobile screen – iPod, iPhone, iPad (yes it falls under this); the laptop/desktop screen -MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, Mac Pro; the TV screen – Apple TV (really? Maybe not, as I explain below); the cloud – iCloud + iTunes and content services.

So what is lacking in this picture, knowing that Apple loves to maintain strict control over everything from hardware to software to services and content? During Apple’s Q1 2011 financial results announcement, we already know that Apple made $3.9 billion long term investments in components supply for the next few years.

Here’s what I think the next disruptive revolutionary technology Apple is going to introduce. The Apple iTV (or whatever they’re going to call it). Why do I say that, and why not just use the Apple TV companion device instead?

The television manufacturing industry is still relatively immature, with very unsuccessful attempts at making SmartTVs by Samsung, LG, and various others. Apple potentially has the ability to disrupt this industry and make this the next biggest cash-cow of Apple. Not only that, Apple will also be killing another industry altogether – the console gaming industry.

Imagine your Apple iTV running iOS, with the ability to interact with your iPad or iPhone as a control device. Together with the ability to directly purchase and consume content directly from your TV, synchronizing all your content (photos, videos, etc) to all devices using iCloud, and of course providing the ability to run apps and games on your Apple iTV.

Utilizing the huge pool of developers currently writing iOS applications, these developers will be able to create a whole slew of new interface apps to the TV. With the control over the hardware of the TV screen by pushing the resolution higher than ever before, providing the best experience with iOS and content.

How about democratizing hand gestures with your Apple iTV by licensing a motion gesture technology aka Microsoft Kinect? Knowing Apple, they may even come up with a completely new way to interact with your Apple iTV (read “not touch”).

Your Apple iTV will be the living room extension of your Apple experience. That is the future.

About Justin Lee

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