So what can they do?
Every so often, they change the game...
- 1984 - the Mac. Commercial version of GUI, plug and play network, very advanced ideas on files and application metadata (arguably better than what OS X has now), tight hardware/software integration, usability and design focus (again, better then than now).
- 2001 (not long after 9/11) - the iPod/iTunes/DRM. The trifecta of a portable music player, the iTunes music management and retail distribution system, and, eventually, an approach to DRM that balanced consumer/producer desires.
- 2007 - the iPhone. Yes, only two years ago. OS X in the pocket, and it's a phone too. The App Store/DRM model creates a massive software industry overnight.
Now we're waiting to hear about the "iTab". There's a lot of comment on what this might be like, but surprisingly little mention of the likelihood that the iTab will bring Apple's Digital Rights Management to printed material (books, magazines, newspapers).
When the technology story of the '00s is written, it may turn out to be all about DRM (or, as we once called it back when we used CopyIIPC to try out new software, "copy protection").