By Carl HoweGiven that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) charged the credit cards for early Apple TV buyers last week, we should start seeing those Mac mini-esque set top boxes showing up in homes this week. But as customers put up their photos of their unboxing experiences, I'm sure a lot of them will be asking, "Tell me again what that USB port on the box is for?"
Well it sounds like the folks over at The Apple Blog have figured out a reason. Remember how critics of Apple TV have complained that it can't record ? Well, it turns out the makers of the Miglia mini HD have been chatting with Apple in a friendly way for a while now. Further, all Miglia products are now gone from the Apple Store. So what is up with that?
Here's our marketing-colored glasses speculation: Apple may be planning to buy Miglia to add TV recording add-on capabilities to iTunes and Apple TV.
Let me explain what I mean to the people who just went, "iTunes? I thought this was about Apple TV?"
Think about the typical application for Apple TV. It goes in the living room, and connects directly to your HDTV. What else is in there? Your TV antenna or cable connection, almost certainly. What better place to put a TV recording device?
The problem, though, is that Apple TV only has a 40 GByte hard disk. That's not going to store much HDTV content; you're going to get two or three movies at most. That doesn't make a great DVR experience. But if the a Miglia TVMini HD+ could export the HD content it is recording back to a bigger disk on an iTunes-enabled Mac using Apple TV's 802.11n Airport Extreme wireless network? Ah, now you're talking.
The fact that the Miglia TVMini HD+ is an external USB device allows Apple to integrate the function without having to send the Apple TV back to the FCC for recertification. But why buy the company though?
Well, you're going to need some serious software integration on the iTunes end to recognize the Miglia device and use it properly. That's not exactly in Apple's interest if Miglia remains completely independent. Further, if the function becomes popular, Apple might want the flexibility to build the device into future Apple TV products. It makes a whole lot more sense for them to lock up the company now and get them developing on Apple's roadmap.
Apple wants Macs to be the hub of your digital life. Steve Jobs has been building that vision piece by piece for more than five years now. Miglia would be just one more piece of the puzzle -- and a pretty clever one at that.