After writing my blog post yesterday about Apple’s CarPlay and the future of cars’ entertainment systems I stumbled across Ben Thompson’s post where he defines the concept of the Digital Hub:
“Another way of putting it is that Apple is constructing a world with accessories that connect with and are powered by their flagship device. Call it Digital Hub 2.0.”
In Apple’s case, the iPhone is currently its flagship device some of the accessories are your television, fitness band, your car and thermostat. Mr. Thompson sees the iWatch as Apple’s future flagship “hub” device, an exciting vision.
I see the accessories slightly differently than Mr. Thomson. I’d place them in two different categories: “smart” and “dumb.”
Dumb accessories are essentially media and content players: screens and sound systems. These currently include the car (Apple’s CarPlay, Google’s Open Automotive Alliance and even Microsoft’s Sync) and the television (Apple TV and ChromeCast are just the beginning.) Any screen can be turned into a “dumb” screen. For example, an airplane’s personal entertainment system, that can go from providing content as they do today to being a dumb screen you can control with your “hub.” Other public screens can work like this too: your screen at the gym and your screen above the dentist’s chair. Also, maybe a cheap, “mindless” tablet-sized screen that can play content when your hub is just a watch.
Smart accessories are where the excitement is. Nest’s products, the BikeSpike and other bike “watchers,” smart refrigerators and other appliances, security systems, water heaters, lighting fixtures, door locks, fitness and health trackers, cameras and, well, a phone (or a way to have conversations.) I’m sure I haven’t thought of even half the items that could be “smartened.”
All you need is one really smart hub.