Daniel Eran Dilger
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Reality Check: Apple not killing the Mac OS for iOS at WWDC 2010

Daniel Eran Dilger

Dan Lyons of Newsweek , in a desperate bid to get noticed again, has abandoned his iPhone rejection / Android adoption schtick and has raced back to the Apple tent to announce his latest revelation: Apple is deemphasizing the Mac OS X platform to focus on iOS this summer, therefore the Mac is dead and Apple will seek out its remaining desktop users and beat them to death and leave them to die in their own blood (I’m exaggerating slightly).

The Lyons’ din

This all makes sense, if you think about it for a while, because everything Lyons says is equally ridiculous. That’s why he’s known as the “Fake Steve Jobs” (when he’s mocking others for money) and “the Fake for Steve Ballmer” (when he’s mocking himself for money).

However, there is nothing original or incisive about Lyons’ latest troll. It’s a standard template for pundits to take every announcement by Apple and turn it inside out. If the company announces new X, they point out (with as much worried handwringing as possible) there was no Y or Z at the same event, ignoring that Apple never throws all its cards on the table at once.

If you’re really brilliant, you might notice a correlation between the timing of Apple’s announcements and the release date of the products being announced. Apple doesn’t have a new version of Mac OS X to sell right now, nor are buyers clamoring for a major new release given that Snow Leopard just came out last August. Do the math.

Dan Lyons, Paul Thurrott: the Fake and the Phony

Secret for a reason

Apple’s savvy marketing is limited to its public facade. Under the surface, the company is busy working on a lot of things that it doesn’t want to talk about. If it did, or allowed leaks that got other people talking about those things, then it wouldn’t be able to focus the discussion on what it wanted to talk about.

There’s also other strategies involved. Imagine if Adobe or Google were to realize what Apple was planning well ahead of time, rather than finding out about things at the same time as the rest of us. Imagine if AT&T were to realize the impact of FaceTime were Apple to officially announce the future release of an iPod touch with a front facing camera.

It seems plausible that the reason last year’s iPod touch didn’t get the camera that was planned for it was because Apple didn’t want proprietary VoIP like Skype to get firmly entrenched before it could get out iPhone 4, iOS 4, and FaceTime as its open standard for video chats.

The only reason to talk without getting paid to talk to is talk for attention or to affect change. Apple already has plenty of attention, so when Steve Jobs talks, it’s either to make you buy something or to change your mind about what’s important. Often it’s both.

AppleInsider | Inside iPhone 4: FaceTime video calling

Is the Mac getting terminated?

The idea that Apple is abandoning Mac OS X wasn’t invented by Lyons. Windows Enthusiast pundits have long claimed to believe that Apple was preparing to retire Mac OS X to adopt Windows on its Mac hardware, citing Boot Camp as proof. This is absurd to anyone who thinks about how much Apple has invested in Mac OS X over the past decade.

Surely such a switch would have made far more sense a long time ago, and makes increasingly less sense as Mac OS X grows ahead of Windows in terms of mindshare and technical sophistication and usability. Pundits’ sense of reason is a bit like homeopathic medicine, where the less you have the more powerful it purports to be. And there’s no side effects!

What they aren’t as clear on is how Mac OS X stacks up to Windows. While Microsoft seems very competent in some areas, it’s woefully incompetent in many that matter, particularly in mobile devices. Microsoft has been perpetuating Windows CE, an entirely independent mobile kernel, alongside the desktop NT kernel used by Windows XP/2000/Vista/7 for almost fifteen years now.

In contrast, Apple has one kernel which scales from the iOS to Mac OS X, works across a variety of CPU architectures (something Microsoft couldn’t manage to maintain with NT), and shares technology between its desktop and mobile devices.

Windows Phone 7: Microsoft’s third failed attempt to be Apple

Psst: iOS is OS X!

The result is that new billion dollar businesses that Apple created over the past decade, iPod, iPhone, and iPad, are all contributing toward development of the Mac platform by extension. Microsoft can’t manage to create desirable mobile products, and can’t even pipe its desktop billions into solving that problem. Apple is doing the reverse, except that both its Mac and iOS devices are profitable.

But the Mac isn’t nearly as profitable, nor as easy to sell. Apple has more than doubled its Mac sales twice in the last decade, shifting from 700,000 units per quarter around 2004 to 1.5 million in 2007 and around 3 million per quarter now. That’s pretty impressive growth, but nothing like the explosion of around 9 million new iPhones and 10 million iPods per quarter, with millions of new iPads joining the party this summer.

It would be completely irresponsible for Apple to focus its current efforts on Mac OS X when it’s gearing up to release iOS 4 and ship iPhone 4 under intense competition of “buy one get one” shipments of Android in the US. By getting iPhone 4 out now, and out quickly, Apple will snuff out attention on Android here and completely clobber Nokia’s new N8 in Europe, which won’t ship for another several weeks after iPhone 4 gets its worldwide launch.

Apple hits when the iron is hot, not when pundits demand details for their blog entires.

Reality Check: NPD’s Android vs. iPhone sales headlines

How to promote the Mac OS

The best way to promote the Mac as a platform is not to crowd iOS and iPhone 4 off the WWDC stage to talk about a distant future release of the desktop OS. It’s to sell enough iPhones, iPads and iPod touches so that there’s another hundred million users exposed to Apple’s technology, and impressed enough to buy Macs too.

Remember when Windows Enthusiast pundits scoffed at the iPod being able to create a “halo effect” in encouraging Mac switchers? They’ve all shut up about that lately apart from the most narcissistic morons among the bunch. It’s also pretty obvious that tens of millions of iPhone users are ready to head back to the Apple Store to buy their next computer.

Focusing its marketing and even its development efforts on the iPhone and iOS is not an abandonment of Mac OS X, because much of the innovation being pushed into iOS is also being shared with the Mac desktop, from the modern architecture of QuickTime X to geolocation services to animated user interface frameworks.

Safari 5’s new extensions borrow from the secure software distribution mechanism created for the iOS App Store. The new Xcode 4 brings the same development tool investments for iPhone to the Mac desktop as well.

It works both ways, too. iOS 4 adds more dependance upon the Mac desktop, not less. From deeper integration with iTunes to PDF reading in iBooks to support for Faces/Places in iPhoto, the iPhone is increasingly a reason to buy a Mac. Additionally, Apple is bringing the Mac OS X desktop look and familiarity to iOS, with a Snow Leopard Dock and a translucent Menu Bar and system wide spellcheck. It’s not a competitor, it’s a companion.

iOS 4 feels a lot like a handheld mobile Mac OS X, in contrast to the way that Windows Phone 7 and Zune HD look nothing like Windows 7.

Why OS X is on the iPhone, but not the PC

How to kill a desktop platform

Apple shows no signs of being interested in converting its Mac users into iOS users. There is a clear delineation between the mobile space with smartphones and media players, the handheld space with iPad, and the notebooks and desktops of the Mac platform. They all run the same core OS and use the same native developer environment, each providing an optimized user interface environment that makes sense for that category.

In contrast, Google is busy working on two completely different systems for mobile devices: Android and Chrome OS. While both are based on Linux, Android is a modified Java VM that targets phone devices, while Chrome OS is an entirely web-based system that doesn’t run Android apps nor benefit from much of the work going into Android in parallel. The only common platform across Android will be the poorly performing Adobe Flash and HTML5.

Microsoft is positioned even worse, with Windows CE powering the completely incompatible cloud-based, app-free Kin while the invisible Zune HD and brand new Windows Phone 7 are expected to run new mobile Silverlight apps and mobile XNA games. But its tablets will be running either Windows 7 or Windows Embedded Compact 7, which apparently will also run Silverlight apps, if anyone buys them. Microsoft is also supporting Flash. Oh, and it will be holding a vigil for Windows Mobile 6.x for the corporations who bought into that platform before Microsoft consigned it to purgatory. Five OSs.

If either of the platforms Google and Microsoft are planning manage to gain any traction, it can only be lethal to the Windows desktop monoculture. Google will be promoting HTML5 web apps. Android apps are a short term charade to maintain feature parity with the iOS; the entire platform will eventually be folded into a web-centric strategy, Google openly acknowledges. That’s why the company isn’t putting much effort into Android Market.

Microsoft is pushing Silverlight, which is its Flash-like alternative to open HTML5. While it demonstrates toy games that can run on the PC, tablet and smartphone, it’s pretty ridiculous to think that there will be any real software developed that can scale all those devices in ways that Microsoft itself hasn’t be able to with its own operating systems. Even Apple doesn’t suggest its App Store games are appropriate for the desktop Mac.

Everything Microsoft and Google are doing is a Windows PC killer. Neither company has a decent iTunes competitor for tethering mobile devices to PCs, and there really isn’t any integration or reuse of the technology they’re working on for mobiles that can be applied to the conventional desktop, unless you re-imagine the desktop as simply being a web browser running Flash or Silverlight.

And yet pundits aren’t worried at all about Windows PCs, instead claiming that Microsoft’s monoculture will bounce back real soon now to recapture its former glory as the primary medium for spyware and viruses and the only choice for PC buyers. Not even the fruit-fly lifespan of the netbook has given them pause for thought that tomorrow’s technology might differ from the one they spent a decade and a half uncritically praising.

iOS and Mac OS

What Apple has is not just a core OS and development environment that scales across todays mobiles and desktops, but also business model that can support their development. Apple isn’t just selling ads like Google or trying to license commodity OS software like Microsoft. It’s the only company capable of selling high quality notebooks that cost more than $800, the only company selling tablet devices, and one of the hottest makers of smartphones, humiliating both RIM’s fancy pagers and Nokia’s simplistic “smartphones” and complex devices that nobody’s buying.

While lots of people are predicting further convergence of Mac OS X and iOS, that’s not necessarily part of the plan. There’s good reason for Mac OS X to remain keyboard and pointer-based with windowed apps, while iOS remains a simplified presentation of documents within full screen apps that are entirely multitouch based.

The key point is that only Apple has the pieces in place to pull off this “one core OS, optimized for multiple form factors” strategy. Microsoft is too enamored with the stylus pointer and pens (with good reason: it’s never made a multitouch device that wasn’t a toy), while Google can’t visualize the computing world outside of the web (for good reason: it’s never made a good desktop app nor a desktop OS). Apple has the longest history of creating popular platforms and creating mobile devices, and the most powerful position in today’s market for setting the pace of the future.


1 stormj { 06.09.10 at 6:14 pm }

Of course the Mac is eventually going to die one day. What Lyons doesn’t realize is that’s because *all* desktop PCs are dying, not just the Mac, not because Apple is euthanizing it.

2 enzos { 06.09.10 at 6:42 pm }

Dying is too emotive a word. The desktop PC/Mac is simply becoming less prominent. The handsome sales of the new iMac shows there’s still a market if the product is compelling. And, true to his word/email, Steve will undoubtedly deliver some powerful new trucks later this year.

PS: ‘Reader’ rocks: loving this new version of Safari!

3 lmasanti { 06.09.10 at 7:00 pm }

I think that Apple is playing “three-cushion billiards.”

Apple sells users iPhones/iPads/iPod touchs.
Apple sells users apps, music, videos, movies, books, content.
Apple sells developers and content creators laptops and desktop to produce them.

So, at the end, all the iOS devices are just an “excuse” to sell Mac OS X!

4 MikieV { 06.09.10 at 7:20 pm }

“The only reason to talk without getting paid to talk to is talk for attention or to affect change. Apple already has plenty of attention, so when Steve Jobs talks, it’s either to make you buy something or to change your mind about what’s important. Often it’s both.”

Nicely stated.

Sad how many people belittle that truism as his “RDF”, and discount it out-of-hand.

As if its wrong for the CEO of a company to try to influence potential customer’s perceptions of his company’s products.

5 amorton { 06.09.10 at 7:42 pm }

The PC is not dying, but it is specialising. Thanks to mobile devices, people no longer need to get a PC and put it on their desk in order to read their email, browse the web, tweet, chat or sample YouTube clips. Perhaps they’ll get away with using a tablet device for writing basic documents.

That might kill of a large percentage of ‘mum and dad’ home PC use. But PCs will still be essential to the needs of businesses, labs, design houses and home offices, which have after all been the primary market for PCs for most of their existence.

I can’t see PCs dying off just because many of their newer applications are shifting to the mobile device space. Pretty much anything you wanted a PC for prior to the late 1990s, you’ll still want a PC for now and into the foreseeable future.

6 stormj { 06.09.10 at 8:32 pm }

@enzos and @amorton: agree.

“Dying” not in the sense of a cassette player, something that kids born today won’t know what it is. But it isn’t going to be the thing you see on every single desktop anymore.

And that has nothing to do with Apple not developing rapidly for the Mac. It has everything to do with their leadership on touch interfaces.

7 Berend Schotanus { 06.09.10 at 8:53 pm }

“And yet pundits aren’t worried at all about Windows PCs…”

Well… I guess they are. But humans have a twisted way of thinking. It’s easier for them to say: “Hey, Apple is killing their own Mac business.” then to say: “Hey, Apple is changing the world and we find it difficult to adapt.”

My own experience at WWDC is that for most sessions it really doesn’t matter whether it is about iOS or OS-X because they are so similar. What Apple is trying to learn it’s developers is to think at a higher abstraction level which makes it easier to let their solutions work on different form factors and makes them more future proof.

And then there’s this other point: whether you’re developing for iOS or OS-X, there’s this single tool you’ll be using: a Macintosh!

8 GusDoeMatik { 06.09.10 at 9:51 pm }

You are always correct in your views…
Apple must love you for your logic…
Too bad people can’t stop criticizing for a minute about something and think for themselves. But then the web would be boring if everyone praised true innovation. It might even slow innovation down… The Jibber jabbers of people is what fuels true innovators like Steve Jobs…
So let them talk and eat their words… It’s funny how often they have eaten their words when it comes to Apple, but they still yammer on anyways… Are they glutton for punishment?

9 GusDoeMatik { 06.09.10 at 10:07 pm }

Also Dying is a very very strong word. Stormj compares the word dying to a cassette tape and that’s true. But Computers are not cassette tapes… They will change though… I bet all my savings, holdings and my business equipment that MAC desktops will eventually evolve into something like the iPad/iPod/iPhone and that all MACs will be touch screen (except for the mini, it doesn’t come with a screen). Then once again change the way people think about computers…

I wouldn’t put it past Steve to eventually change the iPad in the near future so that it has 2-3 types of touch sensors.
The First Sensor is what is being used now. (Finger Based)
The Second Sensor is for a pen tablet. (Pen Based)
And the Third Sensor is a hybrid of both. (Intuitive-Smart Finger and Pen Based)
With that Designers like myself can use the iPad as a drawing tablet to use with all the many designer apps out there… And if Apple did that it’ll be a simple plug and play feature for all apps cause MACs/Apple creators are just that fucken good…

10 nelsonart { 06.09.10 at 11:08 pm }

The core technologies will be adapted to fit both desktop and mobile hardware. Simple functional constraints will limit how much the two OSes will merge. I do not want a touch screen on my future 40+ inch iMac. For that, I will require an accelerated pointing device like a mouse.

I still want something light to travel with like an iPad. But I’d like it to be able to save files and behave a little more like my iMac. MobileMe can help here.

Then I want something shirt-pocket size for carrying around constantly. The small size will making typing and most forms of input difficult but it will excel at other tasks suited to its small size and portability.

The OS innovations will feed each other in a dynamic manner that fuels innovation. But they will merge to a comfortable point so that Apple can maintain and improve each nearly simultaneously. It’s a competitive advantage to assure their similarity.

11 gus2000 { 06.09.10 at 11:16 pm }

“If [Apple] allowed leaks that got other people talking about those things, then it wouldn’t be able to focus the discussion on what it wanted to talk about.”

I think that’s what Microsoft is starting to realize. They can’t speak in public about any product or strategy without the press asking “where the hell is Courier?”. They’ve even started to get snippy about it, since it’s impossible for them to get out their message.

Steve’s keynote was great, but dampened somewhat by the leaked phone. Damn you, Gizmodo…damn you.

12 gus2000 { 06.09.10 at 11:26 pm }

“…[PC] dying not in the sense of the cassette player…”

Actually, that’s exactly what it’s like. The cassette was superseded by superior formats (CD, MP3) and just faded away.

Todays kids are all growing up using “super-devices” like the iPhone, pinching and swiping before they’re old enough to walk. Now sit one of these kids in front of a 1980’s-era PC. They would openly mock Windows 3.1 if it could hold their interest for more than 30 seconds. Remember before plug-and-play? Do you know (or care) what an “interrupt” is?

The bar has been raised. In 20 years, no one will have a “PC” in their home any more than they would have a VT100 or a line printer.

13 nelsonart { 06.09.10 at 11:30 pm }

In 20 years, no one will have a PC in their home? My PC will be 40+ inches of beautiful retina screen. How am I supposed to lug that around?

It all sounds like the same wrongheadedness of those people who have been screaming about the demise of TV as well. We’ll all watch special videos from special goggles…. or watch holograms implanted on our retinas… No thanks. I want my 108″ Sharp LCD. And my desktop 48″ iMac.

14 studiodave { 06.10.10 at 12:32 am }

I have no doubt that many will continue to try cloud based software but, Real users will still insist on software that os located on their own computer in what ever form that computer is. Cloud based software free or paid can not depend on someone else to work for anything that is mission critical. You will never edit a feature film on a cloud based system. Lots of speciality software will also never be cloud based.
GusDoeMatik, I’ll take that bet.

15 adobephile { 06.10.10 at 12:46 am }

I like Apple’s consistent and enduring dedication to its master plan first articulated at the advent of OS X: its “Digital Hub” initiative. That was a decade or so ago. It’s now being realized in so many ways, not even anyone at Apple–including Steve–could have fully foreseen back then.

Anyone concluding that Apple is abandoning desktops based on its concentration on iOS for this year’s WWDC betrays sheer ignorance and acute lack of perception. The time is indeed ripe for iPhone 4 to make a huge splash in the market. Time will tell–very little time at that–how critical the new iPhone was in ushering in yet a whole new level of proliferation of the Apple culture in the world–and to its distinct benefit to us all.

16 mi_nielsen { 06.10.10 at 6:17 am }


Again, great article and good read. I see it in exactly the same way and have always seen OS X as the engine that enables Apple to create all the great products. I for one only became interested in Apple after NeXT took control. I have followed NextStep/OpenStep and was back then hoping it would be available as a true competitor to windows.

I expect the next AppleTV to also run iOS/OS X. More on that later. First of many of the people I know and their friends tell the same story. The iPhone is a great switching device. WIth iOS 4 even more with its dock design. The iPod was for kids and teens that did not have the buying power to get an iMac. With the iPhone you have 20,30,40,50 year olds that want an iMac since they like their iPhone. I also find that many women want an iMac when they see ours in our kitchen. The calender and photos and the design, itunes yes…all really makes it so much easier than having to play IT guy on a PC to get the same out of it.

One thing I don’t understand is that Apple can make the iPad for $500 but an Mac mini cost $600. I mean it has old school disk and they have been making them for years. An Mac mini for 400 will really expand Apples market share.

On AppleTV, as many has speculated on it could be a screenless iPad. The missing controller could be the iSlate mouse thing. This device could be a game hub that also work with the gamecenter and makes gaming on iPod/iPhones interact with HD TVs. A Mac should get the same software, GameCenter for Mac. Plug in a guitar and play guitar hero with real instruments.

What I have been wanting to have others view on for some time is the iOS 4 release on the iPad. It will be ready in the fall so how many can imaging it “just” running on the iPad v1 with no facetime support? I think it will happen at the normal iPod refresh event in september. iPad v2 will keep the same design since it is a bridge between the mac and the smaller iOS devices.
I also expect that iChat will use/support the same protocols as facetime and that the iPod touch will get the the same cameras as the iPhone 4.
It would be interesting if the old 3gs will be available in 16 and 32 for Verizon. This will leave AT&T with the iPhone 4. In my country we have 3 carriers and it just sells many more phones.

I would expect the iPod touch to stay with the low res screen. This could make a 5/7” iPod gaming product that has high res. and would kill psp (even more that the iPod touch)

Thats all.

17 iLogic { 06.10.10 at 6:50 am }

Daniel, thank you for writing articles that I enjoy so much.

OS X will not “die” or be replaced by iOS but I do believe it will / should assimilate it in ways that will make it the most advanced OS ever. Even more than it is now. People automatically assume a touch screen Mac, but there are so many other (subtle) ways it can be enhanced by iOS. Here are a few:

* Dashboard – View your iOS device(s) screens live
* Property Inspector – Enhanced look like the elegant settings panels in iOS. Like Sliders, ON / OFF switches, etc.
* Media Browser – Enhanced look, and connectivity with iOS devices (Connect to my iPhone, add a pic / vid wirelessly)
* Mail – We all know this one is not as good as it could be
And many other small adjustments that will propel the usability of Mac OS into something really amazing.

More importantly, these adjustments as new API could potentially bring a bigger wave of developers that will be truly focused on the Mac platform to create a new generation of great Mac apps. This will be unlike anything Chrome OS, or Windows 7 SPs will be able to compete with in terms mind share in the near future.

If people love it, developers love it and as Daniel mentioned, people are really switching to Macs because of what it offers as a companion to their iOS devices. How many times has half of all Mac purchases been new switchers? Apple is no doubt thinking of ways to use iOS to breathe life into Mac OS instead of seeing it “die”.

Mr. Lyons, are you really paid to write crap?

18 TheMacAdvocate { 06.10.10 at 7:12 am }

Lyons simply resents the fact that any shred of fame he has comes from leeching off of SJ’s accomplishments. It’s the same kind of resentment a one-hit wonder feels having to sing the same song when everything else they sing is booed, except Lyons’s musical equivalent at least had the creativity to do one original thing in the first place and Lyons has been siphoning Apple his entire career.

19 gus2000 { 06.10.10 at 8:21 am }

The era of big computing is over.

Lyons was right in that the PC-type box is waning, but when the Mac is struck down then OSX shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

Everything is going touch, and there’s some movement in the voice-recognition field. It’s not ready to replace the keyboard just yet, but what if it were? Would you, as say, a teenager, dedicate the time and effort required to learn how to *type*, or would you just use the voice interface and touchscreen? Of course there will still be screen/keyboard/mouse PCs around in 20 years, but they won’t be the predominant consumer appliance anymore.

This is great news for Apple, who already has a future-proof operating system with a number of differentiating features:

– fully 64-bit (is iOS 64 bit??!?)
– multiplatform (so far: Motorola 68k, PPC, Intel x86, ARM, A4)
– multiple, innovative UIs (multitouch, Voiceover, gyros, etc.)
– developers, developers, developers (App Store)

When the future gets here, Apple will be ready, in great part because they continue to sell and support the Mac. Will anyone else be ready?

Again, I don’t think the Mac is disappearing, but Apple customers buy touch devices 3-4 times as often as Macs. I have 2 Macs in my house, but 4 touch devices!

20 stefn { 06.10.10 at 9:19 am }

Let’s tie in Safari’s new Reader: I wonder if the idea for this ad-free page view didn’t originate in the mobile versions of websites, fed to the iPhone and now iPad. In fact, mobile user formats have much to teach the PC world about functional design, above and beyond readability.

21 adobephile { 06.10.10 at 9:26 am }

@stefn #20
Good point! I think the iAd system will work well, and whether or not it shoots a big hole in Google’s hull, assuming the Feds don’t muck with it, I think the advertisers, developers, AND customers will be happy with free-app advertising.

I personally detest existing web ads in sidebars and those insidious inline ads.

22 bOMBfACTORY { 06.10.10 at 10:04 am }

It never takes long for the techtard media to pull the next malicious fabrication out of its ass and present it as responsible journalism serving the public good. Fortunately for our reading enjoyment, there’s Dan to bitch-slap some sense into them the next morning. Has anyone read FSJ lately? Hoo boy, toxic and unfunny.

@ gus2000 – Bonus points for the Star Wars reference.

23 gctwnl { 06.10.10 at 10:09 am }

“In contrast, Apple has one kernel which scales from the iOS to Mac OS X, works across a variety of CPU architectures (something Microsoft couldn’t manage to maintain with NT)”

It is even worse: HP added a bit-setting to the hppa architecture to make it caable of switching between big-endian and little-endian mode. This was because Microsoft was unable to get NT portable with respect to these two memory architectures. This means they were messing around at the bit level like crazy. NeXT, otoh, was able to support both big-endian and little-endian memory architectures with one OS and has been ever since. That was one of the main reasons they were able to move from PowerPC (big-endian) to x86 (little-endian) at all with such speed. Apple’s earlier move from k68k to PowerPC did not face that challenge.

So, make that “something Microsoft couldn’t truly manage with NT”

24 Alan { 06.10.10 at 10:54 am }

I am anxious to see what type of convergence will come from iOS and OS X. By that I mean it would be nice to have some Mac OS X only advantages to owning an iOS device. For example, running iOS is a virtual environment or an application on your Mac. This might require some sort of new touch interface like a trackpad, but certainly feasible. It would be nice to connect your iPhone or ipad to your Mac and see and control the device from your Mac. Certainly many of the apps would not work on a Mac because they might require GPS or some other specific hardware, but there are a quite a few others that would run beautifully.

PC users with Windows would still have all the use of their iPhone or iPad, but people with Macs would have a better integration and added features thus giving new buyers even more incentive to buy a Mac.

As to the premise of the article, I too think it is silly to think Apple is abandoning OS X or their computer line. Having said that, I think it is time for a major overhaul to OS X. It has basically been unchanged since OS X.4. with a few minor additions. I think it is time to really stick it to Microsoft and make OS X.7 as far ahead as iOS is above the competition. I hate to admit it, but Windows 7 is really not that bad and has done a lot to turn things around. Snow Leopard might have introduced some big under the hood improvements, but I hope that the next release can utilize these new technologies and add some noticeable new features as well.

I would also like to concur with a previous poster that commented that if Apple can make an iPad for $499, why can’t they also now make a Mac Mini for the same price. That would really go a long way to boosting the market share.

25 Alan { 06.10.10 at 10:58 am }

P.S. It would also be nice to offer something like a 15% off coupon in every iPhone or Ipad box for example to be used to purchase a Mac computer. Or vice versa and offer a discount on an iPhone or iPad with the purchase of a new Mac. Similar to the free iPod back to school campaign they offer every year.

26 ChuckO { 06.10.10 at 11:00 am }

” Has anyone read FSJ lately? Hoo boy, toxic and unfunny.”

FSJ was good before he took the break when SJ had his transplant. It was funny when he was spoofing SJ as a hi-tech playboy hanging out with Bono and Larry Ellison. He’s good at the deconstructing the publishing industry and about how big advertisers sway journalism. His tech opinions as Dan has knocked him around for suck and as is the case lately he get’s on these insane anti-Apple tangents. Dan Lyons is switching to Android? Who gives a f*ck?

Apple can’t win with these guys. Apple is always either too tough and it’s history repeating or Apple is too wimpy and it’s history repeating. If those guys were so smart they’d have real jobs instead of providing unsolicited advice.

27 hrissan { 06.10.10 at 11:15 am }

Mac OS X clearly needs some technology from iOS – first one comes to mind is hassle-free application installation/removing. What the pain is to remove something like Parallels or PostgreSQL. Uninstall scripts are buggy and sometimes depend on order of installations. Application installation is also often convoluted – some applications provide an App which you drop into Applications folder, some make you run installation package and some even make you run installation app! :)
And what a pain is for example viewing video files… In theory you could do it in FrontRow, iTunes or QuickTime, but each has its own quirks…

I know lots of old people who could never figure out how to use Mac OS even the most basic things, like “run a safari”. What’s the problem you ask? They keep accidentally throwing its icon from the dock because their mouse movement is not precise enough. They cannot understand when Safari windows open behind one another. They cannot make Safari window fullscreen (That buggy green button which some people love).

But those people had no problem at all to use Safari on iPhone! You just cannot do anything wrong with it…

I’m sure Steve knows many high level things in Mac OS X should be rewritten from scratch, Apple just does not have enough resources to do this low priority task. So Mac OS X stays and will in foreseeable future stay not-so-convenient OS for professional users, developers and computer experts.

28 Maniac { 06.10.10 at 11:34 am }

@gus2000 “Actually, that’s exactly what it’s like. The cassette was superseded by superior formats (CD, MP3) and just faded away.”

Not quite. In the sense of end-user consumer electronics, yes. But if you’re building iOS or Mac OS X apps, or designing buildings with CAD programs, you won’t be doing it on an iPad. There will always be the need for some kind of bigger-screen, faster-CPU, larger-storage workstation. Drastic overkill for home use, like using a Mac Pro in your kitchen would be drastic overkill if you’re just looking up meatloaf recipes online.

But there will always be the need for a pro-level machine here and there. Like Steve Jobs’ D8 trucks vs. cars analogy. Cars outnumber trucks now, but businesses and very heavy home users still truly need trucks. (And I’m not counting Escalades being used to drive to manicure appointments as “trucks”.)

29 Maniac { 06.10.10 at 11:41 am }

Just as an aside, remember this sequence of events when you want to shoot down an Android apologist’s arguments:

1. Google gives Android away free.
2. Google makes all their money on paid web ads.
3. Android marketplace and native apps will go away.
4. Chrome OS will replace Android apps.
5. Google will put paid web ads on Chrome OS to make money.

We’re just between #2 and #3 now. As the Android apologists if ads are “evil” or not. Then ask them if Google will allow iAds to run on Chrome OS. (And sorry for the hijack.)

30 Maniac { 06.10.10 at 11:42 am }

Oops, that’s “Ask the Android apologists…”

31 AlexWT { 06.10.10 at 12:25 pm }

I agree with some of the other comments. The Mac is going to slowly move to a more professional niche. The iOS devices are going to be the consumer and home devices of the future, but the pricing isn’t there yet.
I thought it was funny that at the All things D conference SJ said the tablet concept came first. If Apple hadn’t pushed the phone first they could have never broken in to the tablet market. As long as the wireless carriers will subsidize the price of the phone hardware, it will make the cutting edge Flash Ram, touch-screens and cameras affordable (and provides Apple with the volume to get better pricing on the rest of the touch lines).
I predict that eventually the iOS and OSX will merge into one, probably by the time one would expect OSX 11. In 6-8 years pricing and size of flash memory will allow for TB instead of GB, and the mobile low power processors will be able to run all but the most demanding chores.
I really like OSX but one of my startup apps is Activity Monitor (used to need it more, better now with an i7 iMac) and there are 128 processes running and 808 threads with 7% CPU use. I shouldn’t need to have this app at all. But OSX is complicated, the iOS is much closer to the original Mac OS in its simplicity.
I think it won’t be too long before an iMac is a touchscreen display, about the thickness of an iPad, that can be vertical for use with a keyboard, or slide into table top mode where you manipulate your data directly with your hands.What Apple will need to facilitate this is a faster wireless connection for external storage & other peripherals.
I can’t wait to see what comes.

32 FreeRange { 06.10.10 at 3:26 pm }

Regarding Daniel’s statement about the rumors / suggestions that Apple dump OSX and switch to Windows – “Surely such a switch would have made far more sense a long time ago, and makes increasingly less sense as Mac OS X grows …” There is NO WAY this ever would have happened. It would have relegated Apple to only being a low margin hardware maker and taken away its strong competitive advantage. You’ve over stated your case here Daniel.

33 garyb { 06.10.10 at 3:33 pm }

Well sometimes I wonder if anyone ever really listens and thinks about what Steve Jobs says. I watched the entire Steve Jobs grilling at the D8 conference. Steve struggled to come up with a good analogy about the iPad versus the desktop. He used the analogy that when automotive technology was new the nation was still largely rural and trucks dominated sales as opposed to passenger cars. Now trucks comprise only 20% of the market.

Many people took this as Steve Jobs intimating that desktop PC’s and Mac’s are doomed. The 20% makes the point that even 100 years or more after the time when trucks were dominant one out of five motorized vehicles were still trucks. Trucks still exist today and have their uses! The analogy wasn’t that the desktop machines will go completely! It was that things evolve, and as these tablets become more powerful and capable they will for many people be the only personal computer they will need.

The desktop is not going away. If touch screen gesture iMacs make sense one day, then I would expect that Apple will ship them.

34 lowededwookie { 06.10.10 at 4:28 pm }

I think Steve Jobs was right when he said the desktop is becoming less relevant and the biggest proof is the Mac Mini Server.

I think Jobs envisages the desktop as merely becoming a server for devices like the iPhone and iPad. I have to agree because it makes more sense.

I’m going to get me an iPad and I’m also upgrading my iPhone because I need portability but laptops are too bulky for my needs as I also carry around tools and parts to do my job. The iPad is perfect because it’s small, lightweight, but also has good real estate to make getting the information I need accessible.

So my MacBook Pro won’t be getting an update at all… my Mac Mini will and it will essentially just be a platform for playing games on Steam, running Parallels in order to run Internet Explorer because that’s what the call system at work uses (it won’t work on other browsers), and to get the data from our call system into Bento which I then synch to my iOS device be it iPhone or soon to be iPad.

The desktop won’t be irrelevant just morphed into a different type of beast.

35 MarkyMark { 06.10.10 at 7:53 pm }

@Berend – for pundits to say: “Hey, Apple is changing the world and we find it difficult to adapt.” would require them to have at least some glimmer of self-awareness.

Actually I would submit that traditional desktop “pcs” ARE going to gradually disappear, particularly for consumers, as activity slowly shifts to the “cloud”. It requires ubiquitous wired/wireless broadband (i.e. LTE) and super-cheap super-sophisticated thin-client displays (i.e. iPad). I fully expect Apple to soon offer some kind of transparent cloud-based (possibly MobileMe-related) storage option for iOS users. Note PARTICULARLY that iOS does not currently allow the user to monkey around with Directories to store their data (i.e. Numbers / Pages). If all your iOS documents were magically automatically stored (and backed up and encrypted) in the cloud, you’d hardly notice.

36 hylas { 06.10.10 at 10:53 pm }

“… the Mac OS X platform to focus on iOS this summer, therefore the Mac is dead and Apple will seek out its remaining desktop users and beat them to death and leave them to die in their own blood …”

… Apple has one kernel which scales from the iOS to Mac OS X, works across a variety of CPU architectures …

Well played, Sir.
Apple builds, seldom offers something only to abandon it shortly after as many of the PC companies do by standard procedure.

Reading many of these Industry “Wanks” is a lot like a bad Soap Opera, pointless and boring – they bring very little to the discussion.

Sophistication: they can’t seem to fathom the seeming depth of this odd tactic – business, as it was once referred to.

Practice safe design – use a concept.

Nice stake in the heart there, Daniel, you’ve made it over-obvious as to what “the agenda” has become for these “Analysts”.

37 beetle { 06.11.10 at 7:00 am }

@Dan: Even Apple doesn’t suggest its App Store games are appropriate for the desktop Mac.

But why can’t Mac users run some (if not most) of those iApps?

@Alan: it would be nice to have some Mac OS X only advantages to owning an iOS device. For example, running iOS is a virtual environment or an application on your Mac.

Exactly right!

38 tundraboy { 06.11.10 at 7:41 am }

Dan, thanks for obliging me and writing about this topic. But honestly I wouldn’t presume that you picked the topic based my prompting. Probably decided on it as soon as you saw that page-view whore’s mug pop up again. I really can’t believe a publication like Newsweek would have that guy on their payroll.

Anyway, sundry reactions to the article and comments thereto:

1. Thanks for elaborating on the technical minutiae of the competing platforms and pointing out why Apple’s harmonized set-up just makes the death of OS-X to be a strategic absurdity. Far as I know, this is the only site that gives that kind of deep-tech (or deeper-tech) angle on things.

2. Please, please, please. Mac is an Apple computer. MAC is an alpha-numeric string.

3. I like to break down computing into two main categories: Large screen and small screen. Large screen computing are those activities that require people to keep several windows open and in view simultaneously. Large screen is also user-input intensive so probably need something like a keyboard and a pointing device. Writing a term paper, preparing a presentation, editing photos and videos, etc. Small screen computing is single-window computing. So movies, which most people would think of as a large-screen activity is really small-screen.

Anyway, my point is MacOS is geared for large-screen computing while iOS is small-screen. And as long as people need to write research papers (with multiple other windows open for you to refer to your data, results, and sources) and edit movies, the Mac will always be needed. But I agree that iOS devices will dwarf MacOS devices.

4. The keyboard will never go away. It’s still the fastest, most convenient, least tiring way to pour numbers and letters into a computer. Voice recognition? Pass. Nobody will want to work in a library or office that has this constant low level drone from people murmuring sweet nothings to their silicon confessors.

5. However, I do think that iOS and MacOS will eventually merge into a single mobile, pocket-sized touch screen CPU. Your whole life in your pocket. When you’re out and about, the small-screen iOS functions come to the fore. When you need to do large-screen stuff, you connect it to your monitor and keyboard at home than the MacOS functions wake up. I don’t know if such an OS would be too complex to be reasonably workable, but boy what an attractive proposition for the user!

Sorry, long.

39 TheMacAdvocate { 06.11.10 at 9:13 am }

I just gave Lyons a coveted seat next to Enderle as the 2nd member of my Douchebag’s Row. I was working on something for Thurrott, but Lyons’s last piece put me over the edge.


40 GeorgeFromNY { 06.11.10 at 9:57 am }

Years back, Apple went through a prolonged and somewhat painful ordeal to upgrade or replace the aging MacOS.

Then SJ returned and cut this particular Gordian knot with NeXTSTEP, resulting in the excellent OS X.

Alas, many Microsoft-ensorcelled pundits do not (can not?) comprehend this; they continue to think the Mac’s OS, whatever it may be, is a problem for Apple because… well… it’s not Windows!

You and I know how silly that sounds. I just wish they did as well, so they’d stop saying it.

41 The Lone Deranger { 06.11.10 at 10:53 am }

Without getting into hyperbole, motives or hidden agendas, the iPad (iOS) is already replacing laptops (OSX & Win) and as iOS matures this trend will accelerate. In three years I expect to see a significantly different outcome than this post implies. With iOS Apple is doing its best to kill everyone’s desktop OS, and if their own suffers in the process it’s a small price to pay. Microsoft will really begin to feel the pain by then.

42 HalMallon { 06.11.10 at 11:51 am }

@ FreeRange: There is NO WAY this ever would have happened.

If you were around in 1997/1998, you would have seen Apple on the brink of collapse…Apple was adrift, and even with Steve Jobs at the helm, things looked bleak…

Alot of people I knew in IT thought the only way Apple could save itself would have been to switch over to the X86 architecture and start making Win boxes. I myself thought it was a possibility if Apple’s market share continued to decrease…

Apple’s turn around over the last 10 years really has been remarkable!

43 Mike { 06.11.10 at 8:01 pm }

Originally quoted by tundraboy:
The keyboard will never go away. It’s still the fastest, most convenient, least tiring way to pour numbers and letters into a computer. Voice recognition? Pass. Nobody will want to work in a library or office that has this constant low level drone from people murmuring sweet nothings to their silicon confessors.

Wouldn’t it be amazing then, if someone invented the silent microphone? Maybe a thing where you put it over your mouth and talk into it, while breathing through your nose. Thereby allowing yourself to talk freely without being heard by others. Or maybe it would have some sort of noise cancellation so that when you talk into it (and have an air hole so you could breathe through your mouth), it produces a noise that’s exactly the opposite, so it cancels your voice out.

How come no one’s invented that yet? I guess there isn’t a need yet, but there will be :)

44 SkyTree { 06.12.10 at 6:25 am }

@The Lone Deranger

No-one else is getting this, but in 3 years time I expect to be editing CAD drawings, Keynote PowerPoint presentations (I can do that already) photos and movies on my iPad. In 3 years time there may be bigger sized iPads. The “curated” iOS world may be more closed but it will be more malware-free and more productive than “farm-truck” desktop PC’s, and all the Luddites moaning “but it doesn’t have a keyboard and mouse” will be sent to the back of the class along with all of those who moaned “but it doesn’t have a floppy drive” …….

45 Marcus Moore { 06.12.10 at 7:00 am }

@tundraboy RE#4 “The keyboard will never go away….”

I think SJ’s words on the launch of the original iPhone- that the problem with existing smart phones was the the bottom 2/3 couldn’t change, and that every application needs a different interface and different set of controls. That’s just as applicable to the desktop as it is to the mobile space. Why are artists having to deal with command keys when working in photoshop? Why am I working with a keyboard when I’m editing in Final Cut Pro? It’s only because the keyboard has been the de facto input device from the command-line days that all applications are now shunted through it. A keyboard for text entry will surely continue to have a place for the foreseeable future, but that interface doesn’t make sense for most non-text tasks. When I’m working in FCP, I should have only the controls necessary for whatever task I’m performing, be it editing, sound mixing, colour correction, etc.; and those controls should look like what I need, and not represented by COMMAND L or CONTROL+OPTION B. Apple has started down this path with their release of the iWork apps for iPad. A keyboard is there when you require it, but never eating up screen space when you don’t.

I think there are two equally viable routes for the future of personal computers. First is one that maintains the current paradigm of a separated input and viewing device [right now monitor and keyboard]. A touchscreen iMac makes no sense. No one is going to want to use a computer with their arms outstretched for any period of time. You think people who use a mouse everyday have muscle problems… So what will change? How about a multitouch keyboard/tablet that replaces the current static keyboard, with a morphing interface which changes to suit the need of every application and task within it, giving you the exact kind of controls you need when you need them.

The other option is a single screen device. But the only way this works is if the orientation changes. everyone is used to working at a school desk, with it’s angled “drafting table” style surface. In this orientation a single screen for input and display works, as long as the screen is large enough to accommodate both. I would imagine if my iPad was 4 times it’s current size, I could be quite happy running FCP on it, especially with all the unnecessary controls stripped away.

46 luisd { 06.12.10 at 7:37 am }

If matlab comes to the iPad, my desktop is doomed!

47 nelsonart { 06.12.10 at 12:36 pm }

Millions of years ago, early man was diddling in the sand with sticks. Today, we still diddle on paper with the same sticks, only they have ink-soaked tips.

Some interfaces will never go away. This is not analogous to the floppy drive becoming extinct.

I require a huge monitor for my desktop Mac. That means I need a device that accelerates a pointer on screen. That requires a GUI. And I type 120+ words a minute so that works fine as well. The mouse and keyboard paradigm will be here for a long time, as least as long as we want big windows to do our work.

Touchscreen on an iMac for the primary interaction? Utter poppycock.

48 GeorgeFromNY { 06.14.10 at 3:20 pm }

They used something else before sticks…


I’ll be here all week, folks.

49 hylas { 06.30.10 at 10:35 pm }

Quoting myself [from above]:
“Apple builds, seldom offers something only to abandon it shortly after as many of the PC companies do by standard procedure.”

This stuff practically writes itself – what makes them think this is a good idea, making SUCKERS out of their own user base, how many time *do* you need to be burned before noticing you have bought crap, and you have been buying crap for years ?
Then those same companies say “toss all that old junk we sold you before [we’ve abandoned it anyway], this is new and shiny, and as cool as blah, blah, blah”.
And they do just that – reliably, repeatably.

Are we not still seeing ads for this [below] – like, as in, this afternoon?

Microsoft Kills the Kin:


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