The winds of change are upon us. Again. Apple’s diminutive Mac changed computing for the rest of us back in 1984. What’s happened since then? Computers have become more powerful, more complex, less expensive, and increasingly difficult to use.
Once again, Apple counters the status quo with yet another computing device. The iPad is the first evolution of the iPhone revolution. This computer is an appliance. Highly useful. Easy to use. The iPad goes where geeks dare not.
Computers Are A Dying Breed
Let’s face it. Computers as we know them, and have known them, for the past 30 years, are overly complex beasts; electronic behemoths which require too much effort for increasingly little gain.
True, Mac OS X, and Mac apps and utilities in general, may be easier to use than Windows PCs.
After all, we Mac users don’t have the security maintenance problems that Windows users have, or the clutter of arcane and numerous menu selections. Mac quality and resale value tends to be higher, too.
So, how is it that the Mac is complex? What could supplant the Mac as an easier-to-user, perhaps more ubiquitous computing device?
Think of all that we allow our Macs (and, by extension, Windows PCs) to become. The Mac is not just email or browsing device. It’s an unwieldy toolbox which is loaded with complex and powerful tools, most of which we have difficulty using.
From iPhoto to Photoshop. From iMovie to Final Cut Studio. From iWork to Microsoft Office. From iCal and Address Book to a stack of utilities that most Mac users know not, the Mac has reached the zenith.
How else do you explain Apple’s reluctance to stuff more features (eye candy) into Mac OS X Snow Leopard? What else can a Mac do? Or, put another way, there’s nothing a Mac cannot do.
Except be easy to use. A Mac is not a toaster. It has become a bewildering array of digital devices, all of which demand learning curve time and maintenance, and like a closet, the Mac becomes a collecting place of everything from music to movies to email. All that capability comes at a price.
Macs are no longer easy to use. They need to be replaced. Who else but Apple could replace the Mac? The bad news is that many won’t like what is happening to computing. The good news is that it’s already happened (or, rather, happening now).
The Mortal Wounds of the iAppliance
A strange thing happened after I bought my first, second, and third iPhones. The first was an interesting, easy-to-use novelty with a phone inside. The second was an evolutionary step; faster, making browsing easier. The third evolution added more functionality and capability without adding more complexity.
The fourth evolution of the device that mortally wounded the Mac is the iPad. The writing is on the wall. We’re the last generation to be deeply indebted to the complexity of the Mac. Both the iPhone and iPad are computing appliances; powerful, easy to use, inexpensive, and available to a rapidly growing customer base—those of us who just want to do things with our apps, and not be beholden to what’s inside.
The iPad represents a computing toaster; no, a computing kitchen full of tools, but each easier to use than anything available on a Mac (or, a Windows PC). Those Mac and PC users with many years of computing experience will decry the iPad as being a toy, not suitable for real work, not even really a computer. The rest of us will simply use it, again, and again, and often in situations where a Mac once ruled. We will download apps, play games, communicate with one another, and leave the past behind.
The Mac is dead. Long live the Mac. Long live Apple’s iPhone and iPad and whatever is iNext because numbers cannot lie.
Apple has over 75-million iPhone and iPad touch customers; far more than total number of Macs sold in recent years. Why? Convenience. Usefulness. Lower cost. Lower maintenance effort. Greater mobility. The iPhone and iPad represent the future of computing devices. The Mac represents the best of the past.
To be fair, the Mac will not go quietly into the past. There are plenty of tasks which, currently, are more suitable on a larger screened, more powerful computing device. As I find myself using my iPhone do perform functions formerly reserved for my Mac, so it will be with my iPad, which will add more functionality, more capability, less complexity, more mobility, and less expense—than even the lowliest of Macs. And, all that will be accessible to people who find Macs and Windows PCs far too complex.
How long will it be before Mac and Windows PC owners are the minority of computing users, rapidly outnumbered by handheld devices? That revolution has already started.