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Back to the PC

Apple’s “Back to the Mac” was a clever play on words. Everyone expected it to mean that the event was going to focus back on new Mac products.  As we had been so steeped in iDevice news the Mac was feeling neglected. It was time to take the discussion “back to the Mac.”

Instead Apple told us that the Mac and OSX were going to become more like Devices and iOS. iOS innovations were what’s going “back to the Mac”

So it wasn’t “back to talk about the Mac” it was “OSX went to iOS and iOS is going back to OSX.” The strategic upshot of it is that “the Mac is an extension of the device portfolio.” Heady stuff. We’ll need to chew on this for a while.

But some implications are easy to foresee. For example, the consequences for competitors. When Apple launched the iPhone, competitors followed suit, powering their phones with a variety of “open” operating systems. When Apple launched the iPad, competitors followed suit, powering their devices with a variety of “open” operating systems. These reactions to Apple’s initiatives by dozens of “open-wielding” competitors are all being touted as the inevitably winning strategies.

So, as we’ve observed all of Apple’s strategies being copied, I can’t wait to see the competitors follow its “back to the Mac” strategy:

  • It won’t be long before Dell takes UI and hardware design elements from the Streak “back to the PC.” Think of the magic that will happen when Android Froyo “hooks up” with Windows 7.  Both Android and Windows being “open”, if I squint hard enough I can just visualize the tweet from Andy Rubin of the command line to build a new Windows  8 with Android mojo. The Android Market selling Windows Apps. It will be beautiful.
  • Or perhaps we’ll soon see “back to the Blackberry” as RIM takes QNX interface elements back to their core business. Not so sure about the command line make statement there.
  • Or maybe Nokia will announce “back to Symbian” as they take gestures from the ultra-open MeeGo to do an evolution of their majestically open Symbian.

These initiative will surely be helped by the vast community of open developers surging to support the great open merged PC/tablet/device future.

As a clue to the sarcasm challenged: The power of Apple’s integrated approach across its product lines goes deeper than the user experience.

  • http://twitter.com/twocolddogs @twocolddogs

    Totally agree Horace. Nice products and sneak peek, but this slide was the most important one of the whole presentation. http://www.blogcdn.com/www.engadget.com/media/201

    • Marcos El Malo

      I was just following a live blogging of the event, so I'm not sure of the context of that slide.

      However, it made me think of a slide from a past presentation that had the Mac at the center of a wheel, with arrow/spokes pointing outward to various devices/services. Mac was supposed to be the the digital hub of the digital lifestyle wheel.

      The slide you're pointing out seems to suggest a cycle that flows without having any one device being the center.

      Yeah, that would strike me as a major conceptual change. Good eye, twocolddogs!

  • John

    But Windows Phone System 7 (or whatever it's called these days) has Xbox integration!

    Apple's ecosystem might be a prison to some, but to me it's a VIP club at a music venue with comfortable seats and attractive waitresses. Now if only those 14 million iPhone customers would make the plunge and buy a Mac too, we could bring the band into the VIP club and let the Windows suffers stand outside, gawking at what they're missing.

    • Marcos El Malo

      I think people are calling it WP around here.

      You were being sarcastic (I think), but MS could (and probably will) do a lot worse than leveraging the Xbox as a hub. Xbox is a successful product with widespread adoption in living rooms across the world. Xbox Live is a successful growing ecosystem. I'm not a gamer, but my gamer friends seem pretty happy with the Xbox environment and are already using the Xbox to deliver other forms of entertainment.

      Will this make MS competitive with Apple? Probably not. But it is a MS asset that all the other smart phone players lack. However, I think MS management is ham-handed, and would probably either ignore this asset or screw up in the execution.

  • Yowsers

    When I switched in 2007 I had the feeling that Apple was pulling away from the competition, and as each year goes by, that feeling has grown to be that they're not only pulling away but disappearing over the hill and around the bend.

    Apple has been able to move OS X onto a phone, and then onto a tablet. I am not surprised MSFT has been unable to do this (Win7 may argue against that). We can ascribe that to their leadership, culture etc. I wonder how much of it is due to technical or architecture reasons? That is to ask, is it nearly impossible on technical grounds (short of ditching 80% of the code base) for MSFT to travel Apple's OS development route?

    • MidKnight

      Actually, I think some naysayers like Eric Raymond have a few solid points and are likely correct that the overall plethora of android devices (which are so varied in even basic things like capability, features, and interface that they can hardly be called a unified platform in relation to the iPhone) will outsell the iPhone.

      That said, even though I'm a die hard geek, I think there are ways that android fans just don't "get" the iPhone.

      I deal with androids for my clients. It's not as polished, but it's functional, and especially with a physical keyboard it's a better message/email/facebook/twitter/phone/PIM system for many than the iPhone.

      But looking at the complaints of developers trying to make popular iPhone apps work across the range of droid hardware, and the fact that the iPhone is basically a portable computer/browser that makes phone calls, and they are really very different beasts.

      And that is why apple can roll stuff back into the core Mac OS, as well as easily expand the paradigm to the iPad.

    • NikolausHeger

      I was blown away by the way Apple moved OS X to the iPhone. That was an engineering feat for the ages. Hard enough when you have an entirely object oriented, processor-independent core. Impossible if you have a series of hacks that was at times neglected, and at other times intentionally obfuscated, e.g., Windows.

      So yeah, doing the same for Windows isn't possible. Many reasons but the main one is that a good software architecture was never one of MSFTs priorities. It's worked for them for a surprisingly long time.

  • http://twitter.com/tommy4490 @tommy4490

    The chairman's focus moves the eyeball float from the mac to the iphone to the ipad, and now BACK TO THE MAC. So, here I am today, commenting from my iMac, which has sat all alone for months.
    It is funny how we can be prompted around like that. Sometimes, I feel like some kind of sheep.
    Ever notice how the singular and plural form of sheep is the same?

  • http://twitter.com/TektonikShift @TektonikShift

    Apple's "integrated" vs "fragmented" strategy goes beyond iPhone.

    Jobs aims to be the consumers 1-stop-shop for all consumer major devices, services and content.

    Its just a matter of time (if not already) before the TV is surrounded by iOS devices and viola, you will want (crave?) an Apple branded large screen TV.

    Its the same strategy IBM leverages with fortune 500 IT customers and to a large degree, Cisco applies for big network infrastructure projects.
    ( btw – Cisco has been using Cisco IOS for long time http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cisco_IOS )

    Jobs is telegraphing his intent via his comments on the earnings conference call and todays announcement slide deck.

    Tek http://twitter.com/@TektonikShift

    • unhinged

      Hmm. I'm not sure that even if I owned/played a viola I would keep it next to my TV. :)

      • Marcos El Malo

        You seem more like the sort who enjoys sax and violins in the movie theater.

  • xavier

    I have been a Mac user since 1984, and of course have an iPhone.

    But my main computing machine remains the Mac and I need OS X to continue evolving. I can't afford to have a machine whose infrastructure is not state of the art.

    Today's presentation did not address the necessary improvements in Open GL, file system, finder, etc., that we need. OS X remains very advanced, but if neglected, is going to lag.

    • Marcos El Malo

      Today's thing seemed all geared toward the consumer. I expect under the hood changes will be revealed at the WWDC, although some things might leak out in the interim from devs not honoring their NDA. I would actually have been surprised if Apple had gone in detail into anything of substantial interest to Mac developers today (other than the Mac App store). Today was a product introduction. Everything leading up to that was just that, a lead up, geared to creating anticipation. (Admittedly, there's an awful lot of cool stuff in the lead up.)

      And I *really* like the looks of the 11.6" Air. I miss my old PB 12". That thing looks incredible.

    • Yowsers

      I suspect they will improve a lot of the components under the hood. One of the comments was that they wished they had a few hours to go over many more changes, but chose only a few. No doubt they selected the big ticket items for the dog-and-pony show. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the components under the hood also get the benefit of the advances made for iOS in addition to the incremental polishing they constantly do.

    • WaltFrench

      @xavier, remember that Snow Leopard was a "tick" cycle: all that under-the-hood stuff broke a bunch of old functionality, and there was no eye candy. Evoked a big "meh" from people who didn't have to get it. So Lion looks to be a "tock." I'm sure there are lots of foundation improvements that'll be necessary to do the various file synchronizations, smart CPU/GPU management, Flash disk support, etc.

      I sure hope that Apple will actually put in clean support into the OS instead of turning iTunes into the world's most bloated, Lincoln Log infested sandbox.

  • Travis

    @xavier Agreed, I would hope that we see some improvements to the Finder, File System and so on as Apple gets closer to the release date.

    I'm just thinking of how easy a sell a Mac with OS X Lion is going to be for Apple Retail staff when an iPhone-loving customer walks in to check out a Mac to replace their PC. An App launcher and App store that these customers are already used to will be a very appealing aspect for them, surely.

    Also, kudos to Apple for putting to rest the idea that they'll be releasing a touchscreen MacBook / iMac sometime in the future. It almost seems stupid that they had to clarify that touchscreen monitors are ergonomically horrible, but it's great that they did anyway.

  • dms

    It's pretty clear where Apple is going with this:

    Dual-mode devices that can switch seemlessly from an iPad-like touch tablet to a Macbook Air-like laptop. You will use it as a tablet, using iOS apps, for most of the time, but when you need to use the full-size keyboard or do a bit heavier tasks, switch to the Mac mode.

    • Marcos El Malo

      That's not clear to me at all. A hybrid touch screen tablet and notebook seems like a step backwards. Which is not to say that iOS apps won't be able to play on Mac OS X. An interesting part of the MBA introduction was the advanced touchpad. I'll be surprised and disappointed if iOS apps don't eventually make it to the Mac side, possibly through an emulator.

    • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

      I disagree. Jobs was pretty clear that they weren't going to put touch screens on laptops and desktops and I can't see them doing a convertible tablet laptop either.

      Mac OSX Lion in the preview and in iLife 11 got fullscreen modes that looked like iOS tablet apps and the changes they're doing to Dashboard, Spaces and Expose to create Launchpad and Mission Control that mimic iOS seem to indicate they're just simply trying to make Mac OSX be more like iOS. Frankly, I find that a horrifying prospect as taking a PHONE UI and applying it to the DESKTOP just doesn't make much sense to me. It's as daft an idea as putting Windows on a phone.

      Hopefully in the next 9 months or so there's some other stuff coming and the iOS touches aren't so bad. iPhone OS on my two 24" screens is frankly not something I want. I realise that if you're an Apple Netbook Air user, you might think differently but real desktop users will be forced to look elsewhere if our Macs start being glorified iPods.

      • Oluseyi

        He could be right, though. Say you take a future version of the iPad which acts exactly like today's iPad in normal usage, but when slipped into a dock paired to a Bluetooth or USB keyboard and mouse reverts to OS X-like behavior. It's not impossible.

  • Marcos El Malo

    Setting aside the Mac App Store announcement, I disagree. Developers for the Mac are greatly interested in the nuts and bolts of the OS. The MAS is a biggie, but it's a distribution channel announcement. Yes, it's of major interest to devs, but not in the same way as the under-the-hood advancements developers are hoping to see.

    There is an overlap between iOS developers and OS X developers. However, they each have separate concerns about the different development environments they are targeting. Another way to put it is that OS X is a different world fro iOS, even if some devs straddle both worlds.

    MAS is going to be a boon for all developers, large and small. But small dev teams have already been harnessing the internet, using storefronts and paypal, which has made it much easier to manage the retail side of things. MAS is an incremental change, really.

    • Marcos El Malo

      This was meant as a response to DDB's comment below.

    • David Chu

      You are right that lots of devs are already harnessing the Internet but a Mac App store is not an incremental change, it's a BIG deal. It's the difference between going into a store to buy a coffee maker and picking one up from the flea market. The difference in trust factor is huge.

      A successful independent dev will likely see multiples in increased revenue.

      • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

        The other side of that is by Apple creating a store, the indie devs appear to be flea markets.

        The Mac App Store suffers similar restrictions on what apps get 'Approved' status too. A few indie devs yesterday were saying that their apps available as they stand now would fall foul of those restrictions and therefore be permanently destined to be 'flea market' sold.

        A couple of wags have suggested that Adobe's CS Suite and Microsoft's Office fall foul of the rules also.

        Good thing or bad thing?

        I would suggest it's bad for both devs AND users since Apple is now telling both what they can and can't do. The difference with iOS is at least devs can release independently but at what disadvantage is that compared to being in the App Store.

      • r00fus

        I see nothing in the MAS rules that state you must release exclusive.
        Only thing is you can't tie the MAS distribution to the non-MAS by doing demo/trial ware.

        AFAIK, you CAN sell a $10 MAS App, and separately a $25 "Pro" app that's distributed separately, as long as you don't bundle in an upgrade path within the app… I'm sure marketing/promotion is ok.

        Both could be easily built using XCode.

        Also sure that the particulars can and will be worked out in time. MAS rules will change to address Dev needs.

      • r00fus

        Perhaps someone needs to create the "Flea Market App Store" to compete with Apple for those programs that run afoul of MAS rules (ie, accept kexts, and maybe porn, but still filter for malware and such)?

      • Marcos El Malo

        It's a real opportunity! I think the Mac app bundlers (Mac Heist, etc.) are in a good position to take advantage of this, but we could also see Amazon create their own Mac App Store, especially if Mac market share continues to grow.

  • DDB

    I think the Lion preview today had little to do with the consumers. It was a heads-up to developers. Jobs was letting them know generally where things were heading so they could start getting things in the hopper.

    The MAC App store is going ro be a boon to small development teams &/or individuals who didn’t have the infrastructure or want to run the retail side of things. This is a very exciting time for MAC owners IMO.

    I think we saw a fraction on Lion today. Just the parts that developers needed to see.

    • David Chu

      I'm expecting big big changes coming in Lion. It seems to me that Steve has been biding his time waiting for the Mac to make a marketshare play and OS Lion will be Apple's coming out party. We are already seeing Apple pricing their computers ever more aggressively as they keep building economics of scale on their own.

      This could put Windows in an uncomfortable position. What happens when all their OEMs can't make a buck but Windows continues to rake in massive profits?

      • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

        That might be true in the US but prices of Macs in the UK have been increasing relative to the competition and relative to the US. The new Air for instance is the same price as the white MacBook here which had recently gone up in price. The Mac Mini price also rose to ludicrous levels on the last update – it's near enough twice what it was back in the PowerPC days.

      • airmanchairman

        The mercantile class of the UK is a notoriously avaricious cabal that is possibly second to none planet-wide for breathtaking and shameless profit madness. Period.

  • Niilo

    Nice post ;)

    Haven't RIM already said that QNX will become the new OS for Blackberry in the future? I thought I read that here. In stark contrast to Nokia's Symbian/MeeGo indecision.

  • http://twitter.com/willolbrys @willolbrys

    apple is not cool. humans are suckers. we have everything, but all we want is something else regardless of the reasoning. omg! new osx! must have! it doesn't matter whether or not its a good idea. simply by making it out of reach jobs has created artificial scarcity of his products. he may be the modern progenitor of artificial scarcity as a business model. frankly, its gross and im sick to death of it.

    apple gets a cut of my profits on regular osx apps because theyre in his stupid store? nobody was having a problem promoting good osx apps, but now apple gets a cut of it because the ecosystem outside of the app store will dry up due to laziness. this sucks.

    • Simon

      You do know that it is entirely voluntary for the Mac developers to use this store, right? So if they don't want to, they can continue exactly as today and sell their software in whatever way they prefer. As a developer myself I welcome this; it is almost impossible to sell software by myself now.

      I expect this store to be heavily curated. Maybe not as much as the iOS one but I still see lots of current software which will not be accepted, even if the devs would like too. The reason is that if I know Apple they want to make sure that the apps bought through this store should be in some sense reliable. I.e. when installed the apps should not to anything funky like messing with the system, when deleting them the system should know exactly which files to remove, etc. So good for games, straight-forward productivity software and so on, but stuff like Growl won't be sold.

      I.e. the store will cater to a certain user profile, and for some users this will not be enough.

    • FalKirk

      @willoobrys: I suspect you are a troll. I am not a developer, but from my reading it is my understanding that developers normally only take home 30 to 50% of their profits. I will allow developers to correct me if I am wrong. There are advantages and disadvantages to having a Mac store, but giving up 30% in exchange for Apple's marketing, administration, and distribution of your applications is not one of the disadvantages.

    • Joe_Winfield_IL

      You will have decision authority over whether to sell inside or outside of the MAS. You also set prices and can decide whether to offset Apple's 30% cut. More importantly though, smaller developers will see huge growth. One of the main benefits of the iOS app store vs. Android Market is the discovery of new products tailered to the likes of the buyer. People willl "trip" over new software simply because it is in a centralized repository with Genius suggestions.

      • airmanchairman

        "One of the main benefits of the iOS app store… is the discovery of new products tailered to the likes of the buyer. "

        That comment encapsulates my iPhone app experience over the past 2 years.

        It's been an absolute pleasure to discover all manner of apps that greatly enhance the administration of my LAN (VNC, Orb, TouchTerm, Scany, Nice Trace, Subnet Calc, Webex, Citrix etc) and musical eco-systems (Guitar Toolkit, ChordMaster, iReal Book, Shazam, MultiTrack, FourTrack, BeatMaker etc) MOST of which were created by little-known developers who have come to the fore through the "centralized repository with Genius suggestions" system.

        OS X users can look forward to similar voyages of discovery that will open up the functionality and sheer enjoyment of their purchases, extending their usability years beyond any hardware refreshes. My iPhone 3G for instance is by today's market standards a dinosaur, but in terms of app functionality you try telling that to my PC, my guitars, synthesizers, amplifiers, web-cams, Wi-Fi routers, Satellite TV set-top box, the list is almost endless, as is my sheer enjoyment of the privileged times we live in.

        And to think that in a few years' time I will be laughing at this last statement! Bring on the future, Steve et al…

  • Joe_Winfield_IL

    I couldn't agree more with those singing the praises of the Mac App Store. There will be an explosion in inexpensive applications. No fart/flashlight apps, but simple games and widgets that are otherwise free and ad supported online today. Beyond the trust factor, users don't think twice about one-click shopping. Apple has proven this over the last decade with iTunes and the iOS App Store.

    Another benefit is direct installation from the a centralized cloud location. Because Apple keeps track of purchases, the Apps will follow users from one device to the next. Your NEXT Mac purchase will be a login away from having all your applications automatically downloaded. Apple is taking down a fence to build a wall of stone around its users. I believe that one of the many reasons for repeated iPhone purchases is the fact that a user would be forced to abandon purchased software to start over with another platform. Now, they have extended this benefit to the Mac. While Mac software has been incompatible with Windows forever, the number of purchases will skyrocket with this MAS. Even if the dollars spent are minimal, people won't want to abandon the volume of proprietary apps that they are likely to consume.

    • r00fus

      Replacing Fence with Stone wall… nice analogy.

      Only thing I would add is, given the "shareability" of Apps, this also drives users to prosthelytize more and evangelize amongst their trusted group (close friends, family) and share Apps there.

      Aside from my wife/kid, I already do this with my parents' iPad and my sisters iPod touch: every time I visit, I login and download (for free) all the apps I bought that they might like… they do the same.

      This means stronger network effect and more app "users", which lead to further Mac and App sales.
      "1 Infinite Loop" seems to be apropos given all the virtuous circles Apple is creating.

    • Mister Snitch

      Oh there'll be Mac fart apps, Joe. There will always be fart apps. Frankly, I find your lack of faith disturbing.

    • http://twitter.com/aegisdesign @aegisdesign

      Developers have been after Apple allowing access to Software Update (the OS tool that updates Apple's apps for some time now) and many use the Sparkle in-app update framework. Apple making that an approved way for 3rd party updates would have been great news. That's all that was needed really rather than a store.

      Downloading apps when installing a new Mac is nice but then most people coming from their old Mac will be using the existing Migration or TimeMachine restore tools I'd guess. Otherwise all your settings are lost from your apps as well as data created by them.

  • Joe_Winfield_IL

    Am I the only one who thinks the MacBook Air is a really big deal? The price, combined with instant-on and 30 day standby, makes this a huge upgrade over the previous version. I think Apple is moving to abandon HDDs and optical drives entirely, in much the same way that they were the first to drop floppy disks.

    For the same entry level (for Apple anyway) pricing, you can now buy the least powerful MacBook with conventional components or the least powerful Air with solid state componentry.

    • http://dysr.com Tombo

      I had the first model and loved it. I was learning Cocoa at the time and needed more real estate so traded it in for a 17" MBP. I would buy one, but since I already have a 17" MBP and a MP, so I have a hard time justifying it. The biggest plus for me is the ability to upgrade to 4g.

  • Sam Penrose

    I was surprised by the iOS to Mac backporting. I assume there are two business drivers: (1) new customers tend to be less geeky customers, so to expand your market you will do well to simplify the customer experience (2) it's time to start acclimating users of the decades-old Englebart/Parc tools to the new paradigm so you can move them on to your competitor-free new platform.

    • r00fus

      Do I smell new "Universal" binaries in the future?
      Ie, buy for iPhone, iPad and Mac all in the same purchase?

      No wonder Apple released their Magic Touchpad. Now all Macs have the capability for multitouch.

  • mdhills

    Chrome seems to be the most likely competitor to make similar moves.

    Steve talks about under-the-hood stuff only if he has nothing better to talk about.

    Lastly, I was really surprised that the "mission control" appellation made it past Steve.

    • asymco

      Is Chrome "back to the PC"? I don't see it. Chrome is more "PC as net appliance".

  • mosspuppet

    Of course they can copy Apple; they're copying *Apple,* not themselves, so they can bring iOS innovations back to their systems.

    Why couldn't they?

    • asymco

      Can Dell bring iOS innovations back to Windows? I don't think they can because they can't re-design the Windows user interface to match iOS. Can Microsoft bring iOS to Windows? In theory yes, but in practice there are too many dependencies. That means that Dell really can't make its PCs device-like in the foreseeable future.

  • grkhetan

    Its an insightful article. But you missed one biggie — it will influence a "Back to Windows" movement for Microsoft…i.e. they will take their learnings from Windows Phone 7 phones back to their Windows laptop/desktops and even Windows tablets. They will bring app store to Windows, tiled interface for their tablets, etc.

    • airmanchairman

      Yep, a natural progression from the current mobile device revolution will be the migration of its most useful and relevant functionality back to the desktop platform to enhance functionality.

      OS/hardware/eco-system integration, however, will be a big factor in the success or otherwise of this movement.

  • Mister Snitch

    "The Android Market selling Windows Apps. It will be beautiful."

    Very savory bit of sarcasm there. Such subtleties, of course, are completely lost on the Ballmers and Droidboys of this world. Hence life will imitate art. More to the point, thus Apple's competitors will continue to make Apple-like noises.

  • norma

    HP has done that for years with their touch smart front ends. Problem is that they lack the polish of iOS.

    The acquisition of webOS means for HP exactly the same, they are willing to integrate the already proven and far better UX of webOS on PCs and all their product line.

    Is true that Apple owns both iOS and Mac OS X, meanwhile HP could only create hybrids with windows, but no one should neglect that fact.

  • putte

    Wow, that's pretty ignorant.
    1) Nokia are already evolving Symbian and Meego towards convergence with the help of Qt and various extensions.
    2) Android is mainly based on Linux and Java. It's easy to see how this could be brought back to the (Linux) PC, by merging the kernel changes back into the mainline (which is already happening) and possibly using their Java libraries as a starting point for the first Java GUI that isn't a big, stinking pile of fail.

    • TomCF

      1) Uhh…sounds like a patchwork of hellish hacks. Maintenance would be a huge money pit.
      2) a) Linux desktop is something on the order of 1% of the market. Consumers are choosing between Windows and Mac OS.
      2) b) Which Linux GUI will take Android innovations? If your answer is all of them, and you don't see the problem with that…

      I don't have anything against a Linux desktop, but someone's got to take it to the consumers. Who will polish it and sell it?

      • putte

        Yes, agreed, integration and polish is needed to make it viable for the majority of consumers. Ubuntu is doing a pretty good job with that, though. Something similar could potentially be built around a more Android-like environment.

        My main point was that taking the changes back to the PC isn't as ridiculous as the article makes it sound. Obviously you can't merge Google's modified Linux kernel with Windows, but I haven't heard anyone suggest that.

        (Also, regarding Symbian and Meego, replacing Maemo's GTK+ and Symbian's Avkon with Qt will make them both easier to develop for and reduce maintenance costs the long run. Looks like a good strategy to me.)

  • http://www.ademloos.be/ Koen van Hees

    I have mixed feelings. Part of me wants to do these cool gestures, part of me dreads the phone calls I *will* get. I can hear my father and father in law already: "now where is my document, it was there just this minute, now it's gone". The demo (of the beta, granted) didn't convince me – the iPad did and still does. This? Wait and see.

  • yet another steve

    Meanwhile the Mac is still the most open software player in the universe. For all the FUD about restrictions in the mac app store, you can write or install any mac software you want, including virtual machines running windows, linux… and bsd is just under the hood.

    And the economy of Apple's OS technology is as beautiful as its stores. 3 platforms from 1 and a half OSes (one core OS, two differing UI and functional stacks on top.) Working on two completely different processor families.

    It's the synergy that MS was NEVER able to pull off and has essentially abandoned.

  • http://info-tran.com Info Dave

    A wealth of information, presented in creative and innovated formats, and sarcasm too? It don't get no better than this. Thanks Horace!

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  • Steve

    Interesting points made here. The only problem with this theory is that (so far), I don't yet see anything from Lion that leads me to believe this is a competitive advantage. I'm hoping there is much more to Lion then what we've seen. Full screen apps? Most Widows users "maximize" their screens anyway. Launchpad? Really? Do we really need a launch pad? What is the dock for? Mission control? Okay, that sort of ties a few things like Expose, Dashboard and Space together a bit better. Sure, someone like Motorola or HTC can't change Windows, but Microsoft can change Windows and copy these features if they wanted to. But, again, I don't see any of these as killer features that anyone really cares about.

    • TomCF

      A maximized window is not the same as a full screen mode. Look at Aperture or Lightroom or other photo apps' full screen vs. maximized window modes.

      Lion is taking the cruftless UI from iOS and bringing it to the crufty desktop UI. Right now there's redundancy. Post Lion, I bet the cruft gets excised, and in a carefully thought-out and integrated way. No single feature will be different than some equivalent single feature on other platforms. But Apple's hope (I think) is that the synthesis of those features will provide an advantage, down the road. Apple could have a major version lead on its multi touch desktop UI in another year, while everyone else is still hammering out details on their phone and building a tablet from scratch.

    • kevin

      Apple has you right where they want you. You can't see any competitive advantage; neither will Microsoft or any of their computer hardware competitors.

      Here's the hint: As TomCF says, full screen is not a "maximized" screen. Unlike maximized, the full screen has no menus, just touchable objects. So what does that mean? It's a multi-touch-based interface. So is the Launchpad. So is Mission Control. As Jobs has said, there is something intimate and magical about multi-touch interfaces, even if you're touching a touchpad or Magic Mouse, and not the screen itself.

  • Greg

    If anyone thinks that a Mac app store is anything but a cash grab for apple, they're fooling themselves. The smarter among you will say, "I know it's a cash grab, but as an end user I still appreciate the unified and easy experience." The less intelligent honestly believe that this is a move primarily for the good of the user base.

    But the really insightful will see that the cash grab is simply -unecessary-. Does a company like Panic need the app store? Started as a small company and still isn't huge, but the company embodies everything that's great about Mac developers. It FEELS like a Mac experience already to purchase and install a Panic app. But now the same opportunity will be lost for companies like that because they'll feel forced into the store. And companies like Panic itself might offer an app store option (even though I bet they'll keep an independent presence as well) and willingly give Steve and his crew a cut of their hard-earned profits.

    An effing shame.

    • asymco

      I'm going to take a chance here and guess that the Mac app store will, like the iTunes Music Store and the iTunes App Store, run at break-even. Not sure how that makes it a cash grab.

  • http://twitter.com/jpalomaki @jpalomaki

    Take one package manager, add charging functionality and there you have your App Store for Mac. Essentially this is the same thing most of the contemporary Linux folks are using to install new software. Long gone are the days when one actually downloaded something and then manually executed the installer. Instead you open up the package manager (Synaptic in Ubuntu), select the software you want to install and click apply. I believe similar functionality also exists for OS X.

    From user perspective this is a superior system compared to the way it is done on Windows. First of all you have one source you can have some trust on. Second the updates are much easier to get. A little bit like having Windows update that covers all the software on you computer.

  • sweeps

    As I see it, Apple will lure even more developers away from other competing projects with this latest development. There are only so many developers, so Apple's app ecosystem becomes more prevalent. Apple's app stores will have tens of millions more users. iAd will benefit, as well, with its larger marketplace. Having access to a larger audience will bring more advertisers, and having the larger screens will bring more advertisers. I see Mac sales and iAd revenues really starting to take off in a year or two. Google should feel threatened.