It might seem a silly question, but does Apple really understand the internet?
After all, they're best known for producing hardware and personal operating systems (iPhone, iMac, iPod, Mac OS) and media applications (QuickTime and iTunes). These are all client-side; apple.com is just an old-fashioned download site, and mac.com is their only attempt at a modern web application, languishing as the 800th most popular site.
Apple has had no success in converting iTunes into a community site, where people could share recommendations, music gossip and events, or post their own music. And with broadband now prevalant, why not store your music at iTunes.com, rather than on your c: drive - that way, you could access it from any computer, or directly from your iPhone.
Finally, if Apple is not careful, sites like Photobucket, Picasa and the forthcoming photoshop.com will steal its tradition in graphics.
Proving they understand the webEven Apple isn't immune to Silicon Valley start-ups, especially those competing with their key music and graphics applications.
Apple have shown enormous flexibility in the last few years, transitioning to Intel processors and moving to touch screens from their famous clickwheel. They'll have to demonstrate it again by moving to web applications.
I've written some success measures for Apple, to demonstrate how far they've got to go in making use of the web:
- Replace iTunes with iTunes.com, a browser-based social application
- Enable direct iPhone access to iTunes.com
- Create the best photo editing site
Are Apple ready to create the next great online applications for graphics and music? If not, they'll be limited to selling internet devices.