The Niche Approach What are Apples assets in this battle? So far, the company has a rock-solid position in the music market; it has a credible offering in wireless networking, and it has the iMac, which begs to be considered as the ideal home computer. But Apple knows very well that its too early to sell the iMac as the digital hub for the home to a mass-market audience, and being too early is as bad as being too late.Click here for a column on why the new iMac design looks better for business.Even worse, Apple has no footing in the gaming market. As for video, consumer usage patterns for viewing video are far too fragmented to allow for a single device to become an iPod-like success in the near future. Yet Apple clearly has understood one important (though often overlooked) lesson: True revolutions start at the fringe, not at the center. Before becoming a vast consumer hit, the iPod was the perfect stylish, niche product. Since Apple has no chance at the Microsoft-style "weve got the money, lets just do it" juggernaut technique of product marketing, it has to go for the smart, viral marketing approach. Whatever comes next from Apple will probably resemble the iPod in terms of approach rather than in terms of product. There is one additional problem, though: Any future foray into the consumer space needs to be sufficiently close to Apples core business to avoid alienating the extremely loyal Macintosh user base. So, to get back at our initial question: Yes, Apple could well crack the living-room conundrum. But dont expect Steve Jobs to do it in a predictable way ... Andreas Pfeiffer is founder of The Pfeiffer Report on Emerging Trends and Technologies. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on Apple in the enterprise.