Between the iPhone, the Mac or the iPad, Apple has some killer products. However, there is another one that could - in my opinion - rule them all and create new opportunities for the soon-to-be Trillion-Dollar company. One that would complement all those iDevices in a personal and safe way. More precisely, for the past few years, I’ve been wondering why the company never invited itself on the NAS market. Let’s get this right away: I’m not at all a specialist in this field. Like many tech enthusiasts, my only knowledge comes down to a Synology NAS. The whole server thing has been simplified, the setup process is easy. They have developed plenty of mobile applications to manage files. There is a great ecosystem of services and a brilliant community. And that's precisely why I believe there is a huge potential. // APPLE ALREADY HAS THE TECHNOLOGY To simplify things, a NAS is a piece of hardware composed of network interfaces, a network management system, slots for storage disks and an operating system to manage content. You plug it to your router and it become a connected box on top of which you can stream medias, download content, synchronize documents, share files or host websites. And Apple engineers have developed skills and expertise in all those fields. Apple has tackled network technologies with the Apple Extreme or the Apple Express. They've worked on connected storage hardware with Time Capsule / Time Capsule server. And they've been mastering streaming entertainment with the Apple TV. Glue all those pieces together and you get a very complete Entertainment box. Let’s call it iCloud Home or HomeCloud. // A FEW USE CASES Now, some may ask: why would Apple launch such a device? The answer is simple: because a "Home Cloud" would drastically strengthen Apple's position in the hardware market by offering not only sa new device but also one that is truly complementary to other products running iOS and macOS. Therefore, right from the beginning, it would just make sense for Apple users to buy it. With a HomeCloud, I could unload or backup my iPhone photos automatically once a week to store them in a local hard drive. I could create a daily or a weekly wireless backup of all authorized devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Also, I could, for instance, download a movie on my way back from work directly from iTunes on my iPhone right to my HomeCloud and stream it to my TV via AirPlay once at home. And who knows, Apple might as well resurrect iWeb to have us self-host websites, weblogs or web galleries. // THE ULTIMATE ALTERNATIVE TO ICLOUD At present time, iCloud is the piece that glues together all Apple devices. But let’s be honest, Apple has never been really successful at online services. It's not really a negative critic; the Web apps do look fantastic. Yet, it is fair to say that they lack tons of features when compared to those developed by Google or Microsoft. Apple certainly knows that, but the company simply is not ready to invest in this area. That's why it would make more sense for Apple - historically, a hardware company - to build a form of private cloud. It would not only spare its servers but also empower its vision of privacy that was made public after the San Bernardino case. // MARKET OPPORTUNITIES The market potential is actually very well-defined: Apple users and small businesses. We already saw a few examples on the consumer side. In addition, this new hardware could as well target pro users. Microsoft, Google or Canonical are well-known on the server market and target big companies or universities. They are, however, not so much present within small companies. Sure, they do offer web-based solutions like Office 365 or GSuite. But what if that small team wants to host all the files locally? And what small company wants to go through the trouble of managing a whole Windows Server? Also, what if their daily tools are mostly manufactured by Apple ? Think of the thousand communication / advertising / PR / software development / web development small companies around the world. Think about a “Pro" version which would offer better performances - on media decoding for instance - and house a bigger storage solution. A new tool for small companies with an extra storage space specifically configured to perform a local backup of the other disks with a special type of RAID “invented by Apple”. Apple would then jump on a market in which other big companies currently do not have anything to offer. // A NEW BUSINESS MODEL Apple is gradually multiplying its App Stores. The company works with third-party app developers on the iPhone, the iPad, the Mac, the Apple Watch and the Apple TV (OK, and CarPlay). But this new device brings another opportunity: HomeCloud-based (or server-based) apps. Let’s imagine an editor developing a calendar and an address book app based on the CalDAV and CardDAV protocols that automatically synchronizes with HomeCloud. Or what about a tool that would automatically create galleries for your recently unloaded iPhone photos? What about a Dropbox-like client to synchronize your files - privately? Or a service using third-party cloud storage services APIs to create a local backup of those documents hosted god-knows-where in Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive? Also, it is interesting to see that Synology has come up with a subscription-based business model for its new version of MailStation - a private webmail service. This is certainly an idea that Apple could borrow. When you take all those pieces I personally I believe it would make sense for Apple to offer a brand new hardware product that would compete in the NAS market. // FURTHER THOUGHTS Such a Hub could also integrate a smart house station for Home Kit and gather controls from all compatible devices. After all, it would make sense for Apple to have such a box, like a Fibaro for instance. Ultimately, it means an integration of Siri. So in short, the Home Cloud would sort of integrate a mini version of the current HomePod.