When Apple last refreshed the Mac Mini line, it introduced a new version with Mac OS X Server preloaded that also dropped its optical drive in lieu of dual hard drives. This new configuration is quite popular according to a recent post on AppleInsider. That leads me to wonder and speculate about what could be next? I’ve speculated about a home server before…
Mac OS X Server has been incrementally growing in features and capabilities with each major release. Its market penetration and target has largely been towards Mac heavy businesses. It has packaged several new products in the last two releases to help Mac organizations reduce their dependence on Microsoft solutions – new products like iCal and Address Book server as well as a mail server, all of which are based heavily on standards which is great for interoperability across all client platforms.
But, with the introduction of the Mac Mini server, Apple has tilted the OS X Server offering more towards small businesses (who might not purchase a Mac Pro or X-Serve to run OS X Server). It also could be used for some home users — could this be the first, quiet step towards the home server for Apple? I don’t have to answer and this is purely speculation, but let me continue.
A few “What if’s”
What if, given the popularity of iTunes and the new Home Sharing feature, Apple created a network copy of iTunes – an iTunes Server. Could that be in the future for Apple? The home sharing feature added the automatic sync technology, and technically, this functionality already available for anyone who buys a Mac Mini, with or without OS X Server. But something that automatically runs a service instead of an application would be a great idea. All those TV Shows and Movies you buy shouldn’t need to reside on your iMac or MacBook Pro. Those make more sense to live on a home server. This could be the backend media server for AppleTV.
Building on that idea, what if the iTunes Server could run Back To My Mac type services and link to the cloud allowing you to stream or pull content to your library to your iPhone, iPod or Mac over an Internet connection? Apple’s purchase of Lala could provide such an interface for users to access and pull their content using the cloud and using their own Mac as the end storage.
Next, what if Apple created an iPhoto Server edition? This could work for agencies and home users the same and allow for syncronized access to iPhoto libraries through a server. Sure, you can share between copies of iPhoto on different Macs, but what about an iPhoto master library with home sharing type features. Or, it could store the content in a central location and iPhoto could serve as a viewer client to the photos and movies stored on the server. Sure, I think this is more of a longshot, but its a problem I’ve encountered with my friend who owns the agency and I’d love to have synced iPhoto across our multiple Macs at home.