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What Would (Steve) Jobs Do? We have a winner!

Peter Rojas

First off, thanks to everyone who entered our "What Would (Steve) Jobs Do?" contest, where we asked readers to send in their best and most interesting guesses for what big product Apple might announce at next week's Worldwide Developers Conference. We received literally hundreds of entries, and we were blown away by the detail many of you went into.

As expected, a lot of the guesses were either for a wireless iPod, a video iPod (or one with both video and wireless), or some sort of wireless dock for the iPod. Several people guessed that it'd be a G5 PowerBook, or an Apple tablet Mac, while a few guessed that it'd be nothing, which all things considered, is a fair guess.

It took a while, but our panel of judges, senior editor Eric Lin, columnist Phillip Torrone, editor-in-chief Peter Rojas, and Unofficial Apple Weblog editor Sean Bonner poured over each and every entry, and after much debate, we finally settled on a winner.

We tried to judge entries on a combination of creativity and likelihood, so it didn't just have to be something Apple could conceivably do, we also wanted it to have that little extra spark of cleverness that makes people love them.

Anyway, enough blather, you wanna know who won, right? We ended up picking Phillip Burgess' concept for a combination infrared remote and LCD display for the AirPort Express. There were several entries proposing a WiFi remote or that the iPod (or some sort of wireless tablet) pull double duty as a remote control for the AirPort Express, but Phillip's concept was well-thought out and had the right balance of creativity and plausibility that we were looking for. It wasn't an easy decision, there were plenty of great entries for gadgets we would really love to see Apple do (but know they won't), but we felt like whatever we picked had to be something that could actually be announced on Monday.

Here is Phillip's entry in its entirety, complete with a sketch he attached:


Seems like everyone's whining about the "AirTunes" feature of AirPort Express and having to control everything from one's computer, which might not be anywhere near one's audio setup.  The solution seems pretty obvious…in fact, I'd wager money that the AirPort Express firmware will already have this capability built in (but undocumented) when it ships. If Apple doesn't deliver something like this by Christmas, Keyspan or Dr. Bott will (though perhaps without the LCD - just an IR receiver).

Why an infrared remote rather than Bluetooth or 802.11? Battery life, and compatibility with existing universal remotes (think "convergence," not "computer peripheral"). The remote might look something like a flattened iPod Mini, running off a common CR2032 battery. The base unit might also work directly connected to a Mac or PC.  MSRP would be perhaps $99 (AirPort Express not included).

Remember that it's entirely possible that one of the guesses we didn't pick will turn out to be exactly what Apple announces! There were a lot of you out there who think they're definitely gonna come out with a wireless iPod, and we can't say we disagree.

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