Daniel Eran Dilger
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Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 9. It can’t multitask

Daniel Eran Dilger

Here’s segment nine in my series taking on iPad myths: no the iPad isn’t incapable of multitasking.

Ten Myth of Apple’s iPad: 1. It’s just a big iPod touch
Ten Myth of Apple’s iPad: 2. iPad needs Adobe Flash
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 3. It’s ad-evil
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 4. It was over-hyped and under-delivered
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 5. It’s just a Tablet PC or Kindle
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 6. It needs HDMI for HD video output
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 7. It needs cameras
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 8. It’s a curse for mobile developers
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 9. It can’t multitask
Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 10. It needs Mac OS X

Dear rubes: 9. It’s a myth the iPad doesn’t multitask.

Okay, so this gets a bit tiring, but Apple didn’t design the iPhone OS “without multitasking capabilities.” The simple truth is that the iPhone OS inside the iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad explicitly multitasks all the time, using the same preemptively multitasking Mach/BSD kernel as the desktop version of Mac OS X.

The iPhone is constantly running processes that listen to the mobile network for incoming calls and texts, it runs an iPod process for playing back music all the time, it watches for background notifications being sent to idle apps, and there’s a variety of other things always going on. This is the definition of multitasking.

Understanding multitasking

A preemptively multitasking operating system appears to run multiple processes at once by very quickly switching between processes, a task managed by the OS kernel itself. This happens so quickly that several processes appear to be running at once, something like frames of a movie creating the impression of motion.

In many cases, the iPhone and its sibling devices are actually multiprocessing as well by running concurrent tasks on different processor cores. For example, when playing back video, the iPhone can spin off the heavy lifting involved with decoding H.264 to a specialized processor core while the main processor core continues to handle other tasks, such as listening for updates or maintaining the user interface.

A cooperatively multitasking system expects apps themselves to relinquish CPU control and share communal system resources in order to allow the user to work with several apps at once. The Classic Mac OS appeared to offer multitasking in this way, but if an individual app ever stopped responding, the illusion of multitasking immediately collapsed because the system might likely never recover.

With a preemptively multitasking kernel like the iPhone OS’s Mach/BSD, the kernel will simply take control back from a bad app and terminate it, or the user can kill an app that isn’t responding. In any case, the system continues to multitask without apps needing to cooperate; the kernel enforces this behavior.

iPhone multitasking

When less is more

A single-tasking operating system would be one that can only ever run one app at once, like the classic Palm OS or the original 1984 Macintosh. In both systems, everything was designed to only allow one app to run at once. The reason for this in both examples was to provide the foreground app with full control of all system resources at a time when there wasn’t much RAM or CPU available.

For similar “finite resources” reasons, the iPhone, while it is completely capable of preemptive multitasking, is artificially and arbitrarily limited from running multiple third party apps concurrently.

The iPhone OS does not launch a bunch of foreground apps at once because there’s no room for a windowing environment and insufficient resources to support multiple concurrent applications all trying to hog the processor behind the foreground interface that the user sees.

The iPhone is not a server and it doesn’t present multiple concurrent app windowing, but it does multitask.

Multitasking in a mobile environment

Most of the people talking about “multitasking” in the iPhone OS do not seem to understand what they are talking about. Using a single word to broadly cover up many nuanced details is simply not useful. What they usually mean to say is that the iPhone does not run any third party apps as background tasks, at least without first breaking its security model (via a “jailbreak”).

How well does this aspect of “multitasking” — actually “app concurrency” — work in a mobile environment? Well, the implementation is important. All multitasking models are not the same, so speaking of “multitasking” as a simplistic bullet feature is very misleading.

Microsoft proved what a dumb idea multiple app windowing would be in Windows CE / Windows Mobile. It launches multiple apps at once, each in full screen, overlapping windows. When you close a window however, it doesn’t necessarily shut down the process. And windows may be hidden behind other windows. It’s a mess, it robs the battery, it makes no sense to the user, and it does not allow any clever interaction between apps. It’s “multitasking” in name only, not in the sense of being useful.

In many ways, Palm’s original single-tasking Palm OS was better; the battery lasted much longer and it was more understandable to users. There was minimal need for users to have multiple apps running at once at the time anyway.

Google’s Android proved that copying Microsoft results in the same degree of success as Microsoft, at least in mobile devices. Sure you can “concurrently multitask,” as long as you want to trade usable battery life for the freedom to manage processes yourself and if you don’t mind gaining the ability to install spyware and spread viruses without even knowing it.

A top Android app is a tool to kill out-of-control multitasking. However, there’s no app for Android that can protect users from installing malicious background spyware and viruses. Apple built in a security system that makes those things virtually impossible to install under the iPhone OS.

So anyone who complains that the iPhone or iPad “doesn’t multitask” is simply signaling that they don’t understand what this means. Or, perhaps, that they want to muddy the waters to ensure that their readers not really understand what it means.

Inside Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone OS as software markets

Mobile Multitasking

When Palm created its original operating system for the Palm Pilot 15 years ago, it licensed a third party embedded OS kernel in a single-tasking configuration. In other words, the Palm OS simply could not run multiple processes at once due to licensing limitations imposed on its kernel.

In contrast, Apple started with its own preemptively multitasking kernel and implemented a variety of background services to provide its iPod, phone, SMS, notifications, clock, and other background features all the time, regardless of the foreground app. But Apple also took the novel step of making the iPhone simple enough to work in an understandable fashion.

Rather than allowing users enough rope to hang themselves with a mess of background applications that aren’t obvious to the user, Apple designed the iPhone OS to launch apps in a sandboxed environment where apps can only see their own data. They can’t access the private files of other apps or reserved system information.

When the user hits the Home button or accepts an incoming call, iPhone apps must immediately quit. This prioritizes the needs of the user over the convenience of the developer, and forces programmers to build apps that remain ready to terminate at any time. Apps simply can’t ignore the user or the OS kernel and remain running in the background, whether they have good intentions or malicious ones.

iPhone 2.0 SDK: The No Multitasking Myth

Multitasking and security models

The only way apps can be run concurrently on the iPhone is by breaking its kernel-level security, which enables both the idea of running multiple apps in the background and also opens up the device to spyware and other malicious threats. You can’t have one without the other. That’s why the desktop Mac OS X and Windows XP/Vista/7 both expose users to a certain risk of malware that the iPhone does not.

The Mac is largely protected from malware problems by virtue of its authentication mechanisms; users can’t install background apps without presenting their admin credentials, and can easily scrub away any malware after it gets installed. On Windows, it’s much easier to get infected without even knowing it, and it’s far more complex to clean up a problem afterward thanks to the convoluted Windows Registry.

Forcing users to manage their own security in a mobile environment is even more complex, and the risks are more intense because pervasively networked mobile devices can do more damage. Without a vigilant security model like the iPhone OS presents, a mobile device gone rogue could send spam in your name at your own expense, it could report your position to some malicious follower, and it could expose your personal contacts, calendar, and messages in ways that never really become a significant problem on the Mac desktop.

Google’s Android Market Guarantees Problems for Users

Thinking about security for users

In developing the iPhone and iPad, Apple actually thought about what users needed to do and what they didn’t want to do, and used that information to create an experience tailored to the mobile, networked environment.

In contrast, both Microsoft and Google have essentially worked to bring the PC desktop to mobile devices without really rethinking anything, which presents the illusion of greater functionality while secretly delivering a massive dose of insecurity, risk, and complication.

Most users are not only unaware of this, but also lack the expert security credentials to adequately manage this extra complexity on their own. And they shouldn’t need to. Even on the desktop, mainstream users have been forced to deal with and suffer through security issues that they needn’t have.

In the new frontier of mobile devices, thinking about security is critically important, particularly given the multibillion dollar mess that everyone witnessed blossoming around the naive PC desktop.

It’s too late to grieve about PC viruses, but it’s not too late to act to prevent a similar crisis from becoming pandemic on our mobile devices as well. Apple seems to get this, while Microsoft and Google either don’t or don’t care.

Three exceptions to the iPhone app model

While Apple’s mobile-optimized iPhone app model makes more sense for most users than the Windows PC desktop mess that Microsoft simply dumped on its own mobile devices (or the hybrid model Google used for Android which opens up some benefits along with its can of worms related to security, manageability and usability), there are several exceptions that the iPhone did not accommodate.

The first and most prominent is that many apps want to stay active in the background just to listen for updates: news, incoming calls, status updates and so on. Following the initial release of the iPhone SDK, Apple introduced a cloud notification service to address this side effect of its restriction on third party concurrency.

Apple’s notification server allows the mobile device’s operating system to accept incoming requests for its non-running apps, and either badge them or pop up an alert so that users can launch the app and take action based on the update. This allows apps to respond to external events without requiring that they be running in the background all the time.

Apart from listening for notifications, there are at least two other reasons apps might want to multitask: one is to provide a background local user service (such as replacing the features of Apple’s bundled iPod app for music playback while another app is running) and the other is to serve external data while the app isn’t in the foreground (such as reporting the phone’s location to Loopt or Google’s Latitude server).

iPhone Push Notification Server tied to Snow Leopard Server

Addressing exceptions in Apple’s iPhone OS app model

It’s widely expected that iPhone 4.0 will introduce a new mechanism for enabling specific third party apps to run in the background, either to provide an always on local service or to act as background external server of some sort.

Either option would rob the system of CPU power and memory, resulting in problems that most users would blame on the iPhone itself, rather than their own use of it. Which is, of course, why Apple restricts the way third party apps run.

The most prominent of requests for app concurrency relates to Pandora Internet radio and Latitude-style updates, both of which Apple could add to its own set of bundled apps and simply allow third parties to access as a system wide service.

For example, adding radio feed support to the background iPod process could enable third party apps to tap into it to provide a unique user interface that can play music that continues even when their app is quit.

Latitude or Loopt could similarly use a central OS service that reports the user’s location at a given interval. Those third party services could also send notifications to their app when other users send a messaging request, allowing the services to work even when the third party app isn’t actually running.

Most other needs for third party background tasks could similarly be rolled into the core OS, enabling the kernel to manage how much time to devote to those tasks itself rather than according background apps all the resources they demand as they run in the background, irrespective to what the user is trying to do in the foreground.

Engineering vs. marketing

As it is, Apple’s existing single app model (with notification exceptions) makes a lot of sense as a way to keep things secure and easy to understand for users. That’s especially the case right now because the iPhone and its generation of smartphones isn’t really capable of unlimited app concurrency or acting as a full-time server.

What about the blazing fast iPad? Well it certainly didn’t beg for multiple apps to be running in the background when I tried it, but anyone who wants to install a background process will probably get the opportunity within weeks of its release thanks to iPhone 4.0.

And again, there are a variety of ways Apple could roll out general background services that all third party apps could access without actually opening the floodgates and creating the potential for apps to do things that users must manage themselves.

Apple’s multitasking model for the iPhone and iPad really represent a triumph of engineering (making tough decisions to provide the best overall experience) over marketing (communicating to users that you’ve done a great job). After all, if Apple had made easy, populist decisions to satisfy the pundits first, the iPhone and iPad would face the same problems as Android.

Sure, the company would be getting less grief from sloppy incompetent journalists, but it would have also delivered a much less functional product that was harder to use and easier to exploit. As it is, users have their choice whether they want Apple’s product or Androids’s, and choice is a good thing.


1 ijoyner { 02.23.10 at 4:46 pm }

Sorry, angle brackets seem to have screwed up the first few paragraphs of last response. They should be:

Hi Tim. Thanks for the idea, but I hate it!

“My only complaint about Apple, is they don’t give you the option.”

No that’s a good thing – not giving you false options. These kinds of options appeal to the “IT” crowd, but are a sign of sloppy systems design. Let me address your idea to show why.

“It’d be nice however to have a settings screen that allows us to put a tick next to the apps we’d like to stay resident, and the ones that not.”

No, this is the IBM/MS approach. It is not appropriate for small end-user devices (not even for desktops, or mainframes either, but particularly EU systems). A well-designed system will self configure to manage its resources.

2 Tim { 02.23.10 at 4:55 pm }

Where’s my hammer and sickle smiley?…..

3 ijoyner { 02.23.10 at 5:13 pm }

Is IBM the hammer and MS the sickle, or the other way around?

4 Tim { 02.23.10 at 5:15 pm }

I’m sure you know the answer to this one….but,

“Your opinion on consumer technology”

5 ijoyner { 02.23.10 at 5:23 pm }

I’m still guessing – could you elaborate?

6 miloh { 02.23.10 at 5:24 pm }

I interpreted it as yet another ill-informed suggestion that Apple is behaving in a communistic fashion.

7 ijoyner { 02.23.10 at 5:51 pm }

I’m not sure Miloh – I’m trying to work out where Tim is coming from. I hope I came across as being civil and reasoned in my reply, even though it (and all my replies) was rather long – it was not the intent to insult him, rather inform him and the many others that might one day stumble upon this group as to why options require deeper thinking to ensure good design, even though they might seem trivial on the surface.

Maybe he wants a real debate on what freedom really means?

8 Tim { 02.23.10 at 5:56 pm }

No Apple are fine. They choose to do what they do not through indoctrine, but through the fact it’s their best revenue model.

The author’s opinion on aggressively reducing choice and freedom as a desirable factor however…..

Don’t get me wrong, I like iPhone, I’ll be buying an iPad, but sometimes it’d just be nice to be able to download a 2Mb file over GPRS while switching to another application, and then being able to OBEX it to another device. The author would argue that my choice to do that is inappropriate.

Do I have to repeat that I like Apple generally? But understand, I’m a technology fan first and foremost.

9 Tim { 02.23.10 at 5:59 pm }

Ah, apologies. It might be across the pond differences coming across as insult/offence. It’s not. Just a strong disagreement on some points.

I genuinely enjoy your writing, and am a subscriber to this feed.


10 ijoyner { 02.23.10 at 6:52 pm }

Tim – I wish you’d talk directly and not obliquely:

“The author’s opinion on aggressively reducing choice and freedom as a desirable factor however…..”

Who do you mean is the author? I’ll assume it’s me, although:

Background downloading… “The author would argue that my choice to do that is inappropriate.”

I don’t think I could be “the author”, because that’s not what my long piece was about at all, but then I don’t think anyone else has advocated that view either, so maybe you are thinking about me. Everyone has argued that certain background activities are entirely appropriate – it’s the inappropriate ones that Apple is being cautious about, because too many background tasks will cripple your system (could be a good denial of service attack, locking out the user as effectively as a cooperative multitasking system where one malicious app could take over the system by not surrendering at the end of the event loop) and maybe worse could lead to security problems.

My point is, to solve this problem of background downloading, etc, the solution of having an option to keep certain applications resident is not a good solution. I think maybe you should reread most of the posts in this group in that light. Put more simply, the OS should solve the problem correctly, not weigh down the user with options that they have to have some technical understanding about.

My further point is that if options are provided, they should directly be as a consequence of the user’s application and problem area, not part of the implementation and system area. That’s high- not low-level design.

“Ah, apologies. It might be across the pond differences coming across as insult/offence. It’s not. Just a strong disagreement on some points.”

Don’t know where you are and I don’t think you know where I am.

“I genuinely enjoy your writing, and am a subscriber to this feed.”

Well, maybe you are talking about Dan after all.

11 Tim { 02.23.10 at 7:07 pm }

Yes, I’ve been confuddled over identity. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed both of your writing, irrespective of disagreement. Probably why I got confused in the first place. Sorry for the confusion.

iPhone OS is a closed environment, and I think that attributes to part of its success. But, it has also opened itself up to some criticism. Some power/advanced user options, buried somewhere in the application settings, would be a welcome break to being treated like Apple children.

12 ijoyner { 02.23.10 at 8:25 pm }

Tim: “I’ve enjoyed both of your writing, irrespective of disagreement.”

Well, thanks for the interesting discussion (and appreciation), but I have to disagree, because I’m trying to get agreement.

“iPhone OS is a closed environment”

Well, that too is a big statement, even generalization. In what way is it closed? Hardware extensibility? Well, no that is why computing was developed, because the openness is in the software – that’s just a fact of economics, it is far cheaper to develop software than to develop new circuitry to do the same thing. Since the emphasis is on software, the hardware should be developed only in as far as it supports software. (The Burroughs and Apple approach.)

So, that is what software is all about. The iPhone is an open platform in that Apple encourages others to develop applications for it – closed would mean only Apple could do that.

Now Apple also stipulates that applications should be written in certain ways – not access hardware directly, etc (this has long been the case on the Mac, since the 1980s). This is because hardware changes – let Apple write the software layer between applications and the hardware. That is so you don’t have to rebuild or rewrite applications for each new updated hardware version of the device that comes out. (See my point about IBM sysgens above.) This futureproofs your applications – for your current investment, you can continue to reap the rewards.

Note I say that Apple has provided a “platform”. I recently had a letter published in the Communications of the ACM, since Michael Cusumano (Professor of Management and Engineering at MIT), wrote an opinion piece that Apple and MS are fundamentally different because Apple, just makes frivolous products where MS makes serious platforms.

Cusumano was completely wrong (and just having a gratuitous Apple bash, which I did not let him get away with). MS might seem to be more open because they allow applications to do more dodgy low-level things, but in fact this is a less of a platform than Apple, which provides APIs that are more stable than low-level interfaces. The measure of a good and open platform is high-level APIs, not low-level. Because of correctness and security problems of low-level interfaces, applications-level developers (including games developers) should be prevented from this level – in that sense it is closed – good. Closed to malicious low-level hackers.

“Some power/advanced user options”

Why should options be seen as for power/advanced users? Maybe some are. But no actually Apple makes this simple thus facilities that used to be only accessible by power users are accessible to all. This actually seems to upset the “power” users because now they are out of a job. Or they no longer are the secret owners of that “power” incantation. Again, I advocate very careful design of options – they should not just be added in a tasteless fashion, but very carefully thought about.

An MS example of this was that soon after the release of Windows 7, a message went around that if you entered some great long hex code in somewhere you could get extra access to features that only internal MS developers had access to (I think Registry options from memory). Sorry, but that’s rubbish.

Another example is the C programming language. The advocates of C long argued that programmers should be trusted (a language should be open). Well, they trusted programmers to not do things like overrun buffers, etc. That too was just false “this has got to be open” think.

For a start, a major source of error is buffer overruns. But further, malicious programmers can use overruns for all sorts of mischief. This desire for “openness” must cost the industry billions per year – so we are now living with this C legacy, and millions are still brainwashed into thinking this is a good situation.

Well, again Burroughs got that right (I encourage people to research Burroughs systems on Wikipedia and further). Buffer overruns, out-of-bounds array indexes, and a whole lot of common errors – both programming and security – were prevented in the hardware architecture. But again the IBM proponents would have seen this as being “closed” and spread FUD that you would not be able to do certain key things on Burroughs systems, because, now like Apple systems they are “closed”. That’s all a lie, just like saying Apple produces closed systems is also wrong.

(In fact, Steve Bartels who did C on the Burroughs/Unisys systems engineered it to do buffer overrun detection, which showed up a whole lot of bugs in software that came from Unix.)


“a welcome break to being treated like Apple children”

Designing good products (platforms) has nothing to do with treating people like Apple children. It is good design. Now like all design, you can argue about the effectiveness of it, etc (as we are). If anything, I find Microsoft’s approach treats people far more like children – in general IT people have to run around enterprises holding people’s hands to do things. Apple, by contrast, puts this power back into the hands of the end users, so in fact is the antithesis of “treating people like children”.

13 miloh { 02.23.10 at 8:51 pm }


“Some power/advanced user options, buried somewhere in the application settings, would be a welcome break to being treated like Apple children.”

But that’s essentially what it’s all about. These devices are aimed at technology novices or those who have relatively simple needs. They’re not intended for power users. It’s like complaining that a little Linksys DSL router doesn’t have all of the capabilities or settings of a carrier-grade Cisco 12000-series unit. It’s not supposed to.

14 ijoyner { 02.23.10 at 9:17 pm }

Miloh: “These devices are aimed at technology novices or those who have relatively simple needs.”

No, I very much disagree with that. These devices are designed for people with the need to carry around a small mobile device with some simple on-the-go computing needs as well as connectivity needs.

A lot of very smart technology-savvy people are using iPhone (and I suspect will use iPad), so it’s really nothing to do with novices. That Apple can make such sophisticated devices easy to use is good design, not dumbing down.

Yes, for full-blown computational, page layout facilities, use a desktop or laptop. Obviously again iPhone can’t – and should not be expected to – match these systems. But again this has not to do with dumbing down for novice users. iPhone is not limited by the need to design for novices, but for the practical needs of a wide class of users in a small form factor.

You could say iPhone is designed for simple uses, not simple users.

15 ijoyner { 02.23.10 at 9:33 pm }

Just as another postscript – Bad design often looks sophisticated and complex, good design too simple to be true.

Don’t be fooled by this.

16 miloh { 02.23.10 at 11:41 pm }


I think you misread what I wrote. I said novices OR those with relatively simple needs. You echoed the second part.

17 ijoyner { 02.24.10 at 1:27 am }

Hi Miloh: “These devices are aimed at technology novices or those who have relatively simple needs.”

I’m glad you qualify that to be a logical or, so we are most likely in agreement. However, linguistically the sentence is ambiguous since it can be interpreted as qualifying “technological novices”. Such is the vagaries of language and maybe the cause of many false arguments on the Internet.

I’m not really sure if it’s just for simple needs – you can still write some sophisticated apps finely focused to certain domains that need exactly the kind of iPhone, iPad portability.

I don’t think we have really seen the start yet – many apps seem to be toys, but they don’t need to be.

18 Tim { 02.24.10 at 2:47 am }


Quite a bit to respond to, so I’ll try to keep it short.

You argue along the lines that simple concise functionality is good design. I agree to some extent, but designs are usually born of functional and non-functional requirements. In the case of consumer devices, these are in turn driven by market demand.

I would argue that good design could be measured by the relative contentment of those that consume that design. Equally measured by how many units are purchased and shipped, although that is also relative to market competition, of which Apple haven’t had any real contenders for some time, in the case of iPhone.

The loudly touted iPhone OS 4.0 will shift their design more in line with market demand. It has to, to fend off competition and keep its growing base of consumers interested. Apple is starting to face stiff competition from Android, and soon to be Windows Phone Series 7. It’s believed that iPhone OS will have a method of running background resident applications, which is in line with consumer demands.

And when I said closed, perhaps it was the wrong choice of words. Locked would have been better. One application store, which they commercially control and monopolise. Microsoft got into a fair amount of trouble globally for ‘similar’ activity.

Design should be a slave to the consumer, not the other way around.

19 cy_starkman { 02.24.10 at 2:53 am }



I didn’t realise that a sys admin of a building sized server farm. Or a sound engineer in a large production studio. Or a lighting engineer driving an opera in the Sydney Opera House…

Were novices with simplistic needs.

It never clicked that the pilot of a 747 was so childlike and inept. Or maybe it’s the person trapped under a building turned to rubble who saved their life with a little toy.

Perhaps you refer to the software engineer or the physist. Or indeed the speech pathologist helping a child sound letters.

No, no, rather the composer on a plane writing their next score.

Yes all these simplistic, novice like… Shall we call them brain impared people?

But of course, you were refering to your own lacking in ability to comprehend the use of a device outside what is spoon fed to you in an hour presentation.

I look forward to the chortles of laughter from my friend who does control the lighting rig of the opera house with his naive little handheld toy when I tell him of your drivel that only better illuminated your tiny use of tools.

Hammers build houses you know, not just crack nuts. Guess what, they can do both. Fancy that.

20 ijoyner { 02.24.10 at 5:38 am }

Tim: “You argue along the lines that simple concise functionality is good design. I agree to some extent, but designs are usually born of functional and non-functional requirements.”

Functional and non-functional requirements are not design (I know this isn’t exactly what your say, but maybe I can expand on your point). For a set of requirements you can have many designs – the set of those that satisfy and the set of those that don’t. Let’s discard those that don’t. But there are probably still an infinite number of designs that satisfy the requirements. Out of these are the set of good designs and bad designs. One of the important characteristics of a good design is that it will be a simple design to satisfy the requirements. Bad designs could still satisfy requirements.

“The loudly touted iPhone OS 4.0 will shift their design more in line with market demand.”

Yes, every release shifts towards market demand, but market demand is also shifting. Certainly running coresident applications is not a market demand – that is merely one implementation – one possible design out of the set of designs.

But “loudly touted” I hardly think so, not at least from Apple. There might be some speculation around from non-Apple quarters, but they are not touting it – only Apple can do that, and all they have right now is iPhone OS 3.2. I can’t recall seeing anything about OS 4 from Apple, just mere outsider speculation. Apple don’t tout and they don’t hype in contrast to popular opinion.

Further a lot of market demand stipulates “Microsoft platform” – well to satisfy that market demand, the rest might as well pack up and go home. You see, a lot of this market really don’t know what they want, so just abrogate control to Microsoft and previously IBM. That is dangerous, because Microsoft and IBM weren’t controlled by the market – rather they controlled the market. That’s the dangerous abuse of monopoly position they were in. I’d love to have a link to a PDF of Richard DeLamarter’s “Big Blue: IBM’s Use and Abuse of Power”, but can’t find one and this book is very rare – maybe I’ll scan my copy one day – it really is essential reading to understand these companies and why being a monopoly is not illegal, but abuse of monopoly power is.

“Apple is starting to face stiff competition from Android, and soon to be Windows Phone Series 7. ”

Are they? Android looks interesting, although the JVM is weird – registers rather than stack – do these people understand anything about stack machine design like mapping TOS to registers? Oh well.

And soon-to-be-released – I’d hardly call end of 2010 soon, especially in this industry. I’d rather call Windows 7 mobile loudly touted and hyped since its arrival is so far off.

Lastly, I do share some concerns about the app store model. However, it does make sense – every application can be traced to a creator. Break the rules and Apple removes your app. Now you have to trust Apple, and some people will feel aggrieved that their apps may be removed because they have not played the game correctly. I am concerned about that.

Apple also makes a cut on every app, but then so does any distributor. But developers benefit too, in that it’s an easy mechanism to getting work published. It is a form of protection though, although perhaps paternalistic. Oh well.

Well again, there’s a lot there, part agreement and disagreement with you, a lot of other points, so please don’t take it as entirely arguing against you.

21 ijoyner { 02.24.10 at 5:46 am }

CY: “I look forward to the chortles of laughter from my friend who does control the lighting rig of the opera house with his naive little handheld toy when I tell him of your drivel that only better illuminated your tiny use of tools.”

I’d like to see that sometime. I really liked the Radio National By Design program on Utzon recently, and the way Ronald Sharp kept the vaulted ceiling in the concert hall in order to fit the organ (was that functional, non-functional or compromise?):


22 miloh { 02.24.10 at 11:55 am }


As has already been addressed, the way I worded that statement was ambiguous. I apologize for the lack of clarity, but please read the prior posts and you will see that I did not actually say iPhone users are novices with simplistic needs. I said the iPhone was TARGETED (i.e. marketed to) those who are either novices OR who have RELATIVELY simple needs (i.e. they do not require the power of a full-blown computer in their hand).

For the record, the following are some of my daily uses for the iPhone:

* Network configuration and control
* Industrial equipment control
* Project management
* Scientific data analysis
* Vehicular diagnostics
* Environmental control

23 cy_starkman { 02.24.10 at 8:04 pm }


Aww, what a wasted effort of a beat up.

So to your actual point. I totally agree. Apple never shows the really heavy lifting apps for the iPhone on ads.

Actually this has been my biggest complaint about the iPad launch, that Apple didn’t bother to show it for what it really has the scope for and as such a whole host of complaints. iWork and the ESPN were the only worthy demos. They could have shown it with a VNC type app running a virtual session of Windows 7 and Office as the ultimate thin client (that has a whole host of other features)

From a marketing perspective though, consider this.

Historically tech has had to make the slow march down from research, to military, to government, to big business, to smb, to early adopter, to main stream. This takes a long time and any point along the way can block it, by lobbying, deep discounting, a range of things.


If you market your thing as mass market toy, you know what happens? A bottom up march, which is difficult to stop. Main stream gets it, brings it to work, work supports it cause its beating down the doors and then its all over the place.

It is a strategy to avoid IT purchasing choices at high levels which lock you out. Apple has no hope converting enterprises. BUT. If they swamp enterprises in people using their product. It gets supported, played with, considered, accepted.

At the same time, the early adopter crowd who (sad but true pun) “Think Differently” and boom you also have your product being demoed doing the really interesting things it Can Do.

If Apple pitched the iPhone as a Remote Server Admin saviour how many would they sell?

This form of marketing has only been recently possible (for tech) due to price/volume etc. I wrote an entire plan around it in 1996. I called it and a range of other strategies System 180 and Open Business. It turns stuff on its head

Thanks for not sustaining a flame war

24 Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 6. It needs HDMI for HD video output — RoughlyDrafted Magazine { 02.26.10 at 3:50 pm }

[…] iPad: 7. It needs cameras Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 8. It’s a curse for mobile developers Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 9. It can’t multitask Ten Myths of Apple’s iPad: 10. It needs Mac OS X . Dear home theater people: 6. It’s a myth […]

25 pelikan3 { 03.20.10 at 5:08 am }

Myth 9: It doesn’t multitask… while I can’t and won’t argue technological semantics, and I will agree that there may be a deliberate logic to not running concurrent, viewable apps on the iPhone, the iPad needs “true” multitasking in order to be more than just a giant iPod touch. If it can’t do what pretty much all laptops and tablet PC’s can do (i.e., open and multiple apps and view multiple windows concurrently), it won’t do enough to carve out a piece of market share. I love the idea of the device, but, I need to be able to do everything I can with my iMAC, from emails and word docs, to possibly editing my website in iWeb and pushing updates. Without full blown iMac capability, I have to wait ’til I can afford an iBook.

26 davitron { 04.27.10 at 6:57 am }

I juste reread my last comment in this discussion to check what I guessed right.
I said:
I was right to anticipate that a kind of multitasking with context freezing and system wide APIs for true core multitasking was for OS4…
Would be fun to take this discussion again in the light of the new OS version.

My new two cents for OS5: multiuser and cloud sync.


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