Just in Time

The iMac launched May 6 1998, exactly 20 years ago. It is not the most significant computer to ever exist. It was a clear descendant of the original Mac which established the “all-in-one” desktop computer category. That category, to which it still belongs, is a modest segment. The last time Apple reported portable sales separately was in late 2012 when the desktops/servers and pro systems combined made up only 20% of all Mac sales by units. If iMac were 10% of Mac sales, it would represent about 2 million units in 2017.

Desktops evolved into laptops and personal computing evolved into pocket  computing. Becoming more personal means more intimacy and this is leading to wearable computing. There is more beyond that to be sure.

But the iMac is a historically significant machine. It allowed Apple to start on a new trajectory. It did this by first offering a financial lifeline. Sales of Macs, which were at the time the only source of revenues for Apple, increased from 2.7 million to 3.8 million a year. This at a time when Windows PCs were shipping about 100 million units. That was enough to ensure survival. Today Mac units are five times higher while Windows PCs are about 2.5 times higher. The following graph shows the impact of iMac on the Mac’s trajectory. 

Second, the iMac was the first host of OS X, an operating system built on Unix which made it extremely flexible. iMac gave Apple the space for OS X to be developed and to be optimized for various hardware. The experience with OS X and its inherent scaleability (down as well as up) meant that it could be considered for the post-PC devices of the future.

Lastly, iMac’s design screamed “consumer product” which went from signaling inferiority to superiority. It set a standard for novelty, creativity and dynamism in the category that was considered second-rate. In the early 2000s consumers began to lead in the adoption of new technologies. DVD drives, internet connectivity, wifi, instant messaging, media consumption exploded. All the while institutions, hung up on legacy, began to block technologies. At this pivotal moment, the iMac spoke with its looks. It didn’t just imply a new order, it stated it.

To me the incredible aspect of the iMac’s entry is its uncanny timing. It came not only just in time to save Apple but exactly half-way between the first two ages of computing. In the following graph showing “share of computing” you can see it as launching precisely at “peak Windows”.

In retrospect you have to wonder if Apple, with the iMac, was lucky to survive into this next era or if that era would have ever happened without the iMac. It’s a question of causality which quickly devolves into an un-winnable argument about stochastic vs. deterministic existence.

Regardless, the result was felt more than seen. The computing industry was pivoting. The results are seen also in the graphs above. The iMac came right in the middle of the “desert” of platform choice of the late 1990s. By the 2000s mobile platforms detonated on the scene. The iPod was Apple’s first entry, in 2001, but it was not a computer. It was an appliance. A stepping stone at a time when the early platform contenders Nokia, Palm, Microsoft and BlackBerry surged before realizing that they did not have sound foundations upon which to build ecosystems. Their advances could not be consolidated.

The spoils went to the later entries of iOS and Android. The resulting disruption was shocking and disorienting. Not only did the old order get up-ended but the magnitude of the new was 100x the old. The iMac enabled at least a trillion dollars of value to be created and made Apple the biggest company in the world.

As you would expect, at the time, 20 years ago, none of this change was anticipated. iMac was a ‘cute’ computer. Toy-like and obviously unprofessional. It attracted and relished contempt.

So now we are at a point where the second era of computing is at its apex. With markets near saturation, the device business is inflecting from growth to possible stagnation if not decline. There are two platforms–though unlike Windows, Android is fragmented and iOS is not just on one form factor. Nevertheless there is stasis. The touch UI which begat nine billion devices is normative. The next interaction metaphor has not emerged as an obvious successor.

The question for today is what is the new iMac? What is the enabler for change? It’s not easy to spot. It is not the thing of the future but it points to the future.

  • Voice? I think neural networks processors is more general (includes voice).
    Steve Jobs said PCs are a medium for apps, like paper for newspapers, when a new technology like deep learning will bring a complete change in apps capabilities you will need new “enablers”, devices to access that universe.
    iPod and iPhone can be seen of “enablers” too.

    • Shameer Mulji

      I think MS’ vision is more apt => intelligent cloud + intelligent devices, with AI / Machine Learning being the glue that binds them. That is the future.

      • handleym

        It’s not MS’ vision, it’s EVERYONE’s vision.
        MS just does a louder job of selling it before its baked. Compare Hololens which was vaporwared years ago and still isn’t really real…

        Difference is Google announces closer to shipping (though still early), and Apple announces when it’s ready to ship.
        (Or used to. There’s a disturbing Apple trend to announce WAY too early — *cough* HomePod *cough*, but also a bunch of iOS 11 features that shipped 6 months later [Apple Pay in iMessages] or haven’t shipped yet [iMessage in the cloud].
        One hopes that Apple has learned something from the clusterfck of the last year; we shall see. How much of what’s announced at WWDC ships no later than say early October for combined new iOS and macOS releases…?)

      • Space Gorilla

        “It’s not MS’ vision, it’s EVERYONE’s vision.”

        Agreed. I call it distributed computing and an Apple Network of Things as shorthand, but it’s an obvious future for our computing experience and everyone is working on it. We’ll all be walking around with our own configuration of watch + airpods + ipad + laptop + desktop + services + voice, etc and our computing experience will be spread across many devices and locations, mobile and ever-changing, fluid.

        You need hardware/devices for this though, so as good as Amazon is doing with some aspects of Alexa they don’t have the devices. Just putting Alexa on other platforms/devices isn’t good enough in my opinion. The level of integration required is tough, plus the security and privacy aspects.

        Even Google doesn’t really have the entire solution and it is made more difficult by the open nature of Android, which Google recognizes and seems to be taking steps to close things down.

        I do think everyone will get there but I would bet on Apple having a more complete solution with a better experience. In other words, same old same old.

  • Space Gorilla

    I’m curious if you have any guesses Horace, as to what the new iMac is? I’m pretty sure distributed computing is coming/partly here already (Apple Network of Things) and voice is a good bet to be part of it, but in an additive way I think, along with augmented reality. Not sure if that qualifies as the new iMac though, but maybe the sum is greater so to speak. As a mentor of mine used to say, big ain’t nothin’ but a whole bunch of little.

    • Duane Bemister

      “big ain’t nothin’ but a whole bunch of little”
      I haven’t had a cell phone for three years now. While enjoying my life I want an always connected watch that I would wear most of the time. It handles all incoming data and deals with it according to my preset preferences without bothering me. I can use it for outgoing messages with dictation. When I put in my air pods it automaticly connects and I can then ask for a current summary. Incoming content can be routed to my iPad or to my WebSonar Library. This can be automated in my preferences. When I get home I would use my iPad for surfing or creation. No more cell phone.

      • Space Gorilla

        Interesting. I think there will be many different distributed computing scenarios. Your scenario is compelling.

      • In distributed computing, Aplikasi Android different computers within the same network share one or……

      • Space Gorilla

        Thanks for the spam.

      • pk_de_cville

        Which watch have you benn using?

    • klahanas

      Don’t know about the Apple network of things, but the Amazon Network of things is doing very well. And they do it by playing nicely with others. A more customer friendly approach IMO.

      • Space Gorilla

        You’ve misunderstood. I’m talking about many devices working together to provide a distributed computing experience via a combination of screen, voice, gesture, AI, etc. Others here are talking about the same concept so it would seem it is well understood. Curation and regulation of the experience are advantages for Apple in this regard. Customers care about their personal experience and if we can believe customer satisfaction data Apple is doing quite well on that front, your own hobby horse isn’t relevant. I won’t be replying to you again on this comment thread as I am making an effort not to feed the two trolls that frequent Asymco.

      • klahanas

        “I’m talking about many devices working together to provide a distributed computing experience via a combination of screen, voice, gesture”

        Yes. Amazon’s network of things does all that too. And it does it with non-Amazon devices as well, so it’s you that doesn’t understand.

        Meanwhile Siri is an imbecile, so much so, that I truly believe the Homepod doesn’t have an Aux-In so that people don’t hook up Echo Dots to it and replace Siri with Alexa. Not having Aux-In only serves Apple.

        You’ve been pushing the “Apple Network of Things” every chance you get for years now. Trust me, it’s not profound.

        I asked a legitimate question, on topic, and you call me a troll. Troll being anyone that challenges your narrative.

      • handleym

        I wouldn’t call you a troll. I would call you deliberately misleading. I’ve looked into the Amazon network of things and I am NOT impressed. The ability to recite some canned phrases to switch some devices on and off does not a revolution make, and that’s all that Amazon offers. There’s more variety of crap available to plug in, but just as little QUALITY available as for HomeKit.

        Meanwhile the essentials on which the system can grow seem even weaker in the case of Amazon than in the case of Apple. Apple at least has some basics in place and mostly working (obviously security, but also easy enrollment and cross device transfer).

        The Apple personal compute network (ie things that run macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and AirPods) shows where we should be with ALL devices. The fact that HomeKit (and other attempts in other spaces, like HealthKit) kinda suck today is depressing, but IMHO they do show the creation of robust underpinning that have the potential for something much better (in much the same way that macOS/iOS/iCloud mutual communication was, uh, “problematic” for YEARS before they finally got it all working correctly).

        My complaints w/ HealthKit and HomeKit are about a lack of serious resources put into them by Apple, but the foundation tech is there.
        My complaints about Amazon (and Google’s equivalent) are that the foundation tech is not there, and they look like opportunistic parasites, designed to sell crap for three years or so till everyone gets wise. (compare, eg, something like netbooks vs iPads)

      • klahanas

        I will grant you that I’m deliberately hostile towards Apple, but not misleading. I do make every attempt to argue with facts.

        I can agree with your position on how things should be for all systems. This is why I defend no company (sometimes I do defend the truth when it comes to a company), and I do not do the fan thing. But I also hold that the MORE companies in a platform or standard, the better.

        Let’s put it this way regarding “canned phrases”, Siri has the most room for improvement.

        In the post above I was specifically responding to the “distributed computing” aspect which was raised. Amazon is so far ahead it’s ridiculous. Most of it in the backend.

      • distributed

        From context, distributed computing was obviously not being used to mean “some large server farms” so I have no idea what you’re trying to say or why…

      • klahanas

        And from your statement you might not ever.

      • distributed

        Thank god, because “you become what you understand”.

  • Rasmus

    If “Android (phones)” was put at the bottom instead of “Windows PC” and overlayed to the same starting age (e.g. 1980) do you se the same trajectory for the two platforms then?

    • Phone adoption is quicker than PC adoption so I would say no.

  • Duane Bemister

    It’s hiding in plain site, the iPad linked to the watch. Tim talks about AR but why would I want to place a virtual object in my field of vision when it displays better on my screen. FaceBook’s days are numbered, boring and evasive. Distributed Libraries will win.

    • Shameer Mulji

      “It’s hiding in plain site, the iPad linked to the watch.”

      Definitely onto something there, though I don’t think that’s the future of computing in general, as it is for the future of Apple.

  • obarthelemy

    “established” means what ?

    Lisa, 1983
    TRS-80, 1977:

    S now there’s inventing, innovating, establishing… pick whichever can be attributed to Apple ?

    • twisting

      Established doesn’t mean “was first to introduce” or whatever you’re implying that it means. Hit up a dictionary before you accuse someone else of twisting the meaning of words.

      • obarthelemy

        Hence my question, on the first line: “established means what ?”

        You’re welcome to answer it. As you say, it doesn’t mean first, nor most most prominent in the form factor. I think it means “Apple, so Love”.

      • twisting

        Oh, I pointed you at a dictionary…I guess I can post it here for you though.

        “1 set up on a firm or permanent basis: the scheme was established in 1975.
        2 achieve permanent acceptance or recognition for: the principle of the supremacy of national parliaments needs to be firmly established | he had established himself as a film star.”


      • obarthelemy

        How do the 30+% market share AIO had half a decade before the Mac don’t count as establishing ?

      • twisting

        Why would percentage market share at some point in time have anything to do with either of those definitions?

      • obarthelemy

        Well, that’s what I got told when I asked about the misuse of “innovation”, so I’m pre-empting that argument. But fine, market share doesn’t count this time around for “establish”. I guess those goalposts are set up on wheels, makes moving them easier.

        Back to the question again: how did the Mac establish in 1983 a form factor that was even more common in 1977 ?

      • Kizedek

        “Back to the question again: how did the Mac establish in 1983 a form factor that was even more common in 1977 ?”

        Probably because the iMac was built around the screen, and wasn’t a small monochrome screen stuck in the computer box. The original Mac was like the TRS80 in that regard, like an electric typewriter that also had a screen.

        Many visitors to my home, even today, take a look at our iMac and wonder where the computer is; they think it is just a monitor (and that’s not even a thin iMac, it’s a 2011 that we still use all day every day).

      • obarthelemy

        The Beetle earned its monicker because of its name ^^ Though in France its probably second to the 2CV (I still see one of those at least once a day) as the epitome of a people’s car, maybe even 3rd to the Renault 4L. I think the US got fixated on the Beetle because there were no other small+cheap cars.

        Same for the Mac and iMac. They established much inside the iBubble, and not much outside of it. This is random and subjective. To me, the ZX-81 established that computers were fun, not frightening, and not expensive, and the Amiga that coprocessors rock. Mac and 2 established that Appel was too expensive to make sense ^^

        Edit: the 4L pic strongly reminds me of a painting… I’ll get back to you….

      • pk_de_cville

        Here’s my Timestamp: May 8 10:29 AM EDT

        18 comments to or from Obart

        10 comments without Obart

        28 total comments

      • Space Gorilla

        Maybe let’s all try not to feed the trolls. I’m as guilty as anyone, but I am trying not to feed trolls anymore.

      • klahanas

        You don’t disappoint with the honest attempt. “All in Screen” is a better term, as is “Pocket Computer” instead of PC. But it is a better redefinition.

        We also need to question what we mean by computing. Am I computing when I’m driving my car?

      • twisting

        By “more common” do you mean “a higher proportion of market share” (i.e. the numbers you have been posting thus far) or do you mean more common?

    • Space Gorilla

      “established the all-in-one desktop” means what ?”

      Not what you think it means, most likely 🙂 Instead of taking every opportunity to slag Apple and Asymco, why don’t you try contributing to the discussion?

      • klahanas

        You lead with the question, and still manage not to answer it. Instead you are rude to Obart!

      • handleym

        The point is that inventing is over-rated.
        Perfecting is often much more difficult, and often takes vastly more effort, than inventing. And what Apple does (and did with iMac) is “perfect”.

        Since this obart, I expect he will immediately insist that iMac is not perfect blah blah, so let’s make clear the point that perfecting is a process, and iMac was a significant step in that process, though of course not the endpoint, since there is no endpoint.

        This is not simply an argument about semantics. Americans obsess over invention and look down on perfecting. Meanwhile first Japan, now China, put a whole lot of effort into perfecting what already exists, and it’s working out pretty well for them…
        Or compare Tesla as another example, where the invention (of “desirable” electric cars) was nice, yes, but unless they get their act together soon, it’s going to be someone else, who makes a significant advance in the perfection of the production process, who will actually matter twenty years from now.

      • klahanas

        Regarding “first”, I will let Isaac Newton’s words echo.

        “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

        A more modern version by Mark Kac…

        “There are two kinds of geniuses, the “ordinary” and the “magicians.”. An ordinary genius is a fellow that you and I would be just as good as, if we were only many times better. … Richard Feynman is a magician of the highest caliber.”

        First matters, and first matters more. Much more.

        And this is not to diminish the value of “best”, but without “first” there can be no “best”.

      • handleym

        OR Murray Gell-Mann: “If I have seen further than others, it is because I am surrounded by dwarves”…

        This is frequently true in science, and pretty much always the case when it comes to corporations.

      • klahanas

        And Gell-Mann would most definitely be the most likely Apple user of the three. 🙂
        But try telling any on the three “what they’re allowed to run”!

      • Kizedek

        If inventing is arguably overrated, one thing that does “everything” is certainly overrated. There’s a reason that, while most of us have one or two tools around the house, like a monkey wrench or adjustable spanner, professional mechanics and the like have whole socket sets of the highest quality with one piece dedicated to every possible nut size.

        Point being, having one good app that you use effectively every day to accomplish something that you need to do, is better than the “possibility” of having 100 mediocre apps that do that same thing, 99 of which you won’t use when you have made your choice. As they say, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.

        For those that focus on the 99 they aren’t actually using but like to brag about how they could be using them when they aren’t — great, get a Windows or Android device. There’s a reason that every survey that asks about productivity comes back in favor of Apple.

      • klahanas

        And I say to you that the user or owner is the judge of what is mediocre or excellent. Or does Apple know qed or elementary particle physics, or algebra, better than Gell-Mann? Or you? Or me? It’s personal you see….

      • Kizedek

        Yes, some things are objectively better than comparable things along any number or combinations of metrics or values.

        What Apple knows, is that there are trade-offs and decisions to be made in anything. Someone that thinks that everyone can have it any way that anyone likes, at any time, is foolish and is not living in the real universe. Sorry if that hurts someone’s feelings.

        It is always ironic that the “pro choice crowd” shows so much animosity to those who personally choose the option that doesn’t pay lip service to “choice” as its highest ideal, but only because it makes “unlimited choice” a trade-off in order to deliver higher value on a number of other metrics. Surely that should be the valid personal choice of a user like me, without my being considered a “sheep” or an “elitist” (which funnily enough seem to be mutually exclusive).

        As I said, Apple simply has the balls to commit itself to focusing on doing 10 things well, rather than 100 or 1000 things poorly. That resonates with many many people. I guess that earns your eternal disdain.

        But Apple doesn’t ever claim that their “10 things” should match your top 10 things. Perhaps you need to disabuse yourself of the narcissistic notion that Apple is out to dictate your values, or judge what is best for you, or in any other way personally offend you. Apple has simply picked 10 things that represent a variety of values, some of which, in some combination or other, do indeed represent value to “most” people.

        The alternative is to claim that you represent everyone, all the time. Besides being impossible, that is full of hubris. If you are an MS or a Google, you can perhaps pull off that kind of hubris, and convince everyone you are doing no evil, unlike that evil Apple. Then at the end of the day, you can shamelessly turn around and try to do more and more things like Apple.

      • klahanas

        I will be brief, because I don’t need to perform the mental gymnastics to attempt to justify restricting other user’s choices. You are free to do as you wish and no one is dictating to you. I wish the reverse were true. ‘That’s why’ the offense, it’s not ‘narcissism’. Frankly, how dare you?

        “Some things are objectively better than comparable things, along any number or combinations of metrics or values, whatever you or I may feel about them.”

        Since we’re speaking “objectively” and obviously generally, and absolutely, this extends to life in general.

        – It’s objectively better that more choice is better than less choice. If you want restrictions other than those provided by a democratic society, restrict yourself. Censor yourself. Change the channel, don’t forbid what channel other’s can watch on their otherwise identical hardware.

        -Sovereignty over one’s property, within the law of a democratic society is fundamental and absolute.

        -Artificially imposed restrictions speak to both points above.

        -‘Most People’ is the antithesis of ‘Personal’. Fortunately, Newton, Feynman, and Gell-Mann are not ‘most people’, they actually think differently! (no, not the slogan)

        “It is always ironic that the “pro choice crowd” shows so much animosity to those who personally choose the option that doesn’t pay lip service to “choice”…..”

        Worry about your own device, I not only have no desire, but no RIGHT to tell you what you’re allowed to run. Suggest you do the same. Is that narcissistic? Or are you being so?

      • art hackett

        By rude, which you two are innate masters of, I assume you mean not agreeing with, which by definition is not possible, even if the same argument (either the 5min or full half hour) is repeated.

      • klahanas

        Frequently the ET simian would refer to me and obarth as trolls, even when not directly engaged.

        Frankly I get great amusement from his mental gymnastics, his pretentiousness, and his slogans. I can’t tell you the number of times he preached to me acting like I don’t know my own needs, yet he does.

        I will grant you this much…

        I admit I have an axe to grind with Apple, i never hid my reasoning or motives. He has an axe to defend. He truly believes he’s protecting his stock. If then I’m a troll, he’s a sycophant, a phony, as a user at least.

        I would rather be a sincere, fact based “troll” than a sycophant. I speak as a user, not a gambler. I would say to any investor of any product that my rights as a user supersede their interests. I certainly have the right to defend them.

      • klahanas

        Indeed, I spend an inordinate amount of effort showing that “if the big hand is on the twelve and the little hand is on the five”…..

  • obarthelemy

    If the Mac enabled (sic) the iPhone, how could Google make Android w/o a Mac equivalent ?

    • xerox

      They had something even more powerful: a xerox machine.

    • charlesarthur

      Google didn’t make Android- in 2005 it bought Andy Rubin’s company, which had roots back to the Danger Hiptop (bought disastrously by Microsoft).
      All of Google, Apple and Microsoft could see that smartphones were coming; the disagreement was about the form factor.

    • What nonsense is this? If A->B and if B->C then there has to be a D such that D->C?

      • obarthelemy

        That’s a causality fallacy: Apple got M then I so M enabled I ?

        If one can get to I w/o M (as Google did), I’d say M didn’t enable much. iPod and especially Palm had more impact on iPhone. But then again, I’m not any more sure of what you mean by “enabled” than of what you mean by “establish”, and probably don’t agree with it any more than I agree with what you mean by “innovation”.

      • read

        Please read the article you are commenting on. The majority of the article (again, the article in question is the very one you are commenting on, and can be read by simply “scrolling up” from reading this comment) precisely explains what is meant by enabled, in detail.

      • “iPod and especially Palm had more impact on iPhone.” Not really.

        If you understood anything about the iPod, you would know it used a derivative of PixoOS while the iPhone used OS X as its base. The gist of Horace’s argument is, without the iMac Apple would not have survived long enough for the iPod to be developed. This allowed Apple to get into the mobile space with an appliance (the iPod) to build a foundation of a platform (with music) and then jump to the full iOS platform built on the same software tech in the iMac. Of course he acknowledges:

        “It’s a question of causality which quickly devolves into an un-winnable argument about stochastic vs. deterministic existence.”

        However, he puts forth a reasonable argument to prove his case.

      • Glaurung-Quena

        “What nonsense is this?”

        Attention vampire troll is being deliberately obtuse in order to get people to argue with it. Sadly it succeeded.

      • art hackett

        That’s New Logic in the New America (World?).

    • Simon_Hibbs

      iOS was possible because it was built on Mac technologies like the Darwin OS core, the NextSTRP derived UI frameworks and system services. It was a natural evolution of the OS on to a mobile form factor and it’s that evolutionary path that was the enabling factor.

      • obarthelemy

        Again, I find that pretty random, because Android, WebOS, PalmOS… all arrived at pretty much the same point, at pretty much the same time, via different routes.

        Apple learned the easy+sexy formula with the new Macs and the iPod and that gave them a leg up. But technically, once multitouch capacitive screens and mobile CPUs powerful enough to run a regular OS were available, anything could be used to implement sexy+easy. Apple ported what they had on hand, but if they hadn’t had it, they’d still had been fully able to get the same result via other technologies, as several others did simultaneously.
        I don’t think there’s anything particularly “natural” (sic) about evolving the Mach kernel and slapping a mobile execution environment onto it; not any more natural than doing it with the Linux kernel, the Windows kernel….

        Again, to me the main debt of modern smartphones is to Palm, which embodied all the concepts that only needed to be refreshed for multitouch capacitive and preemptive multitasking w/MMU. Palm themselves failed that transition, but from the user standpoint there’s a much more direct line from Palm+phone to smartphone than from PC to smartphone.

      • klahanas

        Doesn’t it all distill down to either BSD or Linux?

  • adlerscout

    Cloud computing needs to come into this perspective. While in the windows era software run on specific machines, today a lot of software run via the browser. Perhaps a graph showing the growth of cloud computing vs machine run software would bring some hints into the new era. This is a radical change because a lot is done regardless of the computer you have (desktop, mobile/tablet, wearables, in someone else’s computer!!)

    • Windows 10 2018

      correct everything is going to be done in the cloud
      you don’t even need to buy a $1000 dollars video card
      in order to play AAA video games

  • Windows 10 2018

    nothing last forever
    trust me the World without Microsoft is a better World

    • Simon_Hibbs

      I think what’s happening is that Microsoft is being forced to focus on the things they are actually good at. I have no real problem with Microsoft as they are now.

      • Windows 10 2018

        the operating system is just 10% of microsoft revenue
        so microsoft don’t really care to build a new decent OS
        it’s just a waste of valuable resources for them

    • art hackett

      While that was my point before iPod, with everyone insisting that was bitterness/blindness/inability to accept the future/yaddah, yaddah…,
      that would appear to be less of an issue now with the FaceGoog Pied Piper syndrome dragging us into a Brave New Orwellian “future”. Not helped by Angry Orange and Co.

  • Sconnie Fella

    Apple Watch is the enabler for AR glasses. Shows Apple’s advances in minaturization, chip design, fashion design.

    • handleym

      Details are wrong, point is correct.
      In the medium term wearables (esp glasses, but also smarter headphones) are the future. Longer term is IoT (ie intelligence in everything).
      (I agree that aWatch previews tech for glasses; but would not call that “enabling”.)

      The same people who insisted that smart watches were stupid because “mechanical”, “fashion”, “don’t wear”, “something something” are ramping up to insist that smart glasses are stupid because “Google failure”, “fashion”, “don’t wear”, “something something”.
      Likewise for lack of vision wrt smart headphones (why can’t my AirPods do noise cancellation AND signal companding AND translation AND cocktail party signal extraction?)

      And IoT is even worse. The stupidity, incompetence, and greed surrounding the current companies is for some bizarre reason assumed to be innate to the sector, that no-one can ever do this right. It’s very much like mocking in 1999. Ha ha ha, buying commodities over the internet, what a dumb idea… But the IoT will *eventually* get its Amazon, the company that does it right.
      (Unfortunately, at least right now, that company doesn’t seem likely to be Apple, which is displaying all the blindness, wrt this sector, that we saw with companies like MS’ foray into phones; a singular lack of imagination and understanding of the big picture and how Apple would best fit in.
      HomeKit is an orphan, and Apple’s unwillingness to provide a full-featured HW hub sends a strong signal that they don’t get it and don’t care.
      HomePod just rubs salt in the wounds, reinforcing just HOW MUCH they don’t get it.)

  • Childermass

    Usefulness is the underlying driver, and that is enabled by ubiquity and power. We need our things with us and so the more portable they are the more useful. (“The best camera is the one you have with you”). Full portability means no wires (connections between machines I carry, including charging) and universal WiFi (communication between my machines and everybody else’s). No wires is coming and there are hints of universal WiFi in several cities in Japan. My machines get smaller, and therefore more portable, with every increase in processing power. They are already small, they will get much smaller. As I said years ago, desktop became personal and is now intimate. All this is known and likely.
    The breakthrough will be voice interaction. “Computer turn on the TV and find the Giro d’Italia.” “Computer I need tickets for the Stones in Coventry. Er, four would be good.” “Computer book me a table at that Japanese place I go to a lot.” “Computer where are my ‘king glasses?”. And spontaneous responses. “Bernard Cornwell’s new book is out.” “You are running late, do you want me to call your brother and tell him?” “Childermass, is that Apple Pie? I’m calling your wife.”

  • hannahjs

    I love your graphs, Horace. I can locate myself with precision amongst the traces, see my AP career morph as I leap between platforms, even mark the points at which a sense of oppression set in (requiring Xanax) and then receded, restoring health and hopefulness to me.

  • a clear descendant of the original Mac

    This is important.

  • berult

    In the ‘here and now’, an island State of beguiling realism over’seas’ the archipelago of befuddlement and bewilderment, …em’powered by the tidal forces of quiescent gratitude and booming resentment.

  • Mark

    “Second, the iMac was the first host of OS X, an operating system built on Unix which made it extremely flexible. iMac gave Apple the space for OS X to be developed and to be optimized for various hardware.”

    Not too sure about this. OS X was released in 2001.