There’s no such thing as a “given” with Apple these days, but if I had to guess which consumer electronics accessory category the company could be looking to enter right now, the universal remote market would be in my top five. It’s not just that people want such things, or that companies like Logitech sell all sorts of expensive Harmony remotes. Or that Apple is widely considered to own the “simple user interface” category. Or that it’s building the same Infrared sensor into all of its product lines. Well, maybe it is just those things, which together suggest that there’s (1) demand and (2) money to be made on (3) an Apple core competency type of product that (4) almost all of its computers (and Universal Docks for iPod, and iPod Hi-Fis, and Apple TVs) now support.
Apple TV’s omission of a volume control was what started me thinking this past week about an Apple Universal Remote. Sure, there could easily be other reasons the unit prevents you from even optionally attenuating its analog volume – entirely unlike the iPod Universal Dock, which implemented the same feature without incurring the scorn of audiophiles – but the omission seems like a natural justification for Apple to offer an upgraded, pricey Infrared remote for all of its products and your existing home AV setup. “We wanted to offer serious home AV users the best possible listening and control experience,” the company would say, “hence, Apple Universal Remote.”
The release of such a device might also explain why, back almost two years ago, Apple CEO Steve Jobs smiled but wouldn’t say anything in response to an inquiry regarding remote control of one’s iTunes library via AirPort Express. Everyone thought the smile meant, “it’s coming right away.” But perhaps the company was still working on its big picture strategy for invading the living room and trying to determine whether RF, Wi-Fi, or IR technology was the way to go for the remote. Like it or not, IR seems to have won (see: all those Apple products above), most likely because other devices use IR too, and it’s the least internationally regulated standard of the three.
What do you think? Would you want/buy an Apple Universal Remote, or is there another solution out there that’s already good enough for your needs?