I’ve long wanted an Apple media server (the “iServe,” perhaps?), though it may never happen. But who knows? Apple has filed various patents for such a device in the past, and has filed for another one (10,200,430) this week.
The “network media device” patent filing is for a network media device that pulls multimedia data from one or more sources (e.g., a multimedia website or a multimedia server computer) at a first time, stores it to long-term storage within the device and transmits the stored multimedia data to one or more designated multimedia playback devices at a second time.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that, with the increasing capacity and capability of personal computers, as well as improved multimedia interfaces for these computers, it has become popular to use personal computers as a repository for multimedia content, such as songs, movies, etc.
Because consumers may access their multimedia content at virtually any time of the day, however, this implies that one's personal computer system must be powered and operational at all times. Additionally, consumers may prefer to experience certain media content, particularly video content such as movies, using more entertainment-oriented devices; such as home theater systems, which typically include larger screens and higher fidelity audio systems than personal computer systems.
Apple says it would be beneficial to provide a mechanism whereby a consumer could off-load, over a computer network, specified multimedia content to a playback device that could at a later time, send the information to conventional entertainment devices such as stereo equipment, televisions, home theatre systems, etc.
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.