In case you were climbing the Himalayas and didn’t hear the news, at the WWDC developer’s conference, Apple introduced a new iPhone and iPhone OS.
Both are packed with features of the future to excite the Apple faithful and entice the unwashed masses of non-Apple device users. Among the many changes to Apple’s iPlatform is that iPhone OS is no more. Now it’s simply iOS 4, the operating system of the iPhone. What of Mac OS X?
Hello, Future—Goodbye, Past
Apple’s developer conference used to be about the Mac, which used to be what Apple was all about. Early 2007 brought the iPhone and iPhone OS, and the WWDC developer’s conference has never been the same.
If Apple is the mobile device company and iOS is the future, what is the Mac?
Snow Leopard is the latest version of Mac OS X, merely extending the cat line from a decade ago. Cheetah in early 2001, then Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard, and Snow Leopard.
Apple’s iPhone and iPad and iPod touch all ran a version of OS X. With Apple’s focus and success on iDevices and a newly named iOS to work on each future device, what about Mac users?
Steve didn’t have much to say about the Mac at WWDC, yet the Mac line makes up a substantial portion of Apple’s growing revenues and profits, although a smaller portion each year. The Mac is selling at record levels.
Has Mac OS X come to the end of the line? That’s a reasonable concern, considering Apple’s iPlatform and iDevice direction.
So Long, Cats—Hello, What?
iPhone OS is gone as of version 4, replaced by Apple’s new and shiny iOS 4. Wait. iOS? Isn’t that a Cisco product? Cisco iOS is used in Cisco Systems routers and network switches. How can Apple have a product with the same name as Cisco?
It turns out that’s happened before. The original iPhone was a Cisco product. Cisco sued. Apple settled, and no one remembers the Cisco iPhone.
Cisco IOS (originally Internetwork Operating System) is the software used on the vast majority of Cisco Systems routers and current Cisco network switches. (Earlier switches ran CatOS.) IOS is a package of routing, switching, internetworking and telecommunications functions tightly integrated with a multitasking operating system. The first IOS was written by William Yeager.
I find it mildly ironic that Cisco’s earlier switch OS ran CatOS, and Apple’s OS X versions for the Mac are named after cats. In the case of iOS, Cisco has licensed use of the iOS trademark to Apple.
My Mac-oriented gut tells me that 2010 is all about Apple’s mobile devices and the future, and the Mac won’t get much more than hardware enhancements for another year, perhaps until WWDC 2011. Think of it as iPhone on even numbered years, and Mac on odd numbered years.
Will Mac OS X go the way of the dodo bird? Only to be replaced in name by iOS for Mac? Not only is that 2011 scenario possible, it’s plausible, and probable.
In other words, no more cat names for the Mac. The Mac will live. iOS for Mac could be the future. What will that iOS future bring? Already, the Mac is so loaded with features and capability that Apple hasn’t done much with either since Leopard was introduced in 2006 (Snow Leopard was introduced in 2008; each shipped a year later).
The Future Is Moving This Way—Fast
Apple is a technology company that is not afraid to embrace the future. The future, by nature, means letting go of the past. Perhaps slowly at first, but relentless, the past fades away.
Macs and Windows PCs are not going away as full-featured, high-capability computing devices.
Clearly, though, the future is computing on handheld devices, and the Mac is decidedly not handheld. Apple knows that. Mac success and growth may continue for a few years—the iPod halo beget the iPhone halo which beget the iPad halo.
What can move the Mac forward as a more expensive, more complex, more capable computing device? iOS for Mac. Not Mac OS X. Why? It fits, of course. And I perceive that Apple, for all the focus and attention on bringing the future to us today, is deathly afraid of keeping the past lingering around.
Goodbye, Mac OS X. Hello iOS for Mac. In theaters, summer of 2011.