Where does Apple go from here? Staggering record sales and profits. Again. More Macs, more iPhones, more iPads. More music, more TV shows and movies, more apps.
Everything about Apple is selling well. The company sits on a cash pile well in excess of $50-billion, yet—because of CEO Steve Jobs’ health problems—we worry about Apple’s future. What’s coming?
The Future Of iDevices Is Easy
Faster, lighter, more powerful, but not easier. That’s what I see in the future of iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Not easier? No. But not much more complex, either.
The iPhone does much more today than the 2007 version, which was a huge leap over previous so-called smart phones.
More functionality is getting stuffed into ever smaller devices, which means they’re not quite so easy to use as the original—but certainly more useful, functional, and fun.
The PC, at least as we know it, is over 30 years old. The Mac started life in 1984. The iPhone is far more powerful and capable than any standard Mac or PC back in the last century.
Today’s Mac sells in record numbers; easily the most powerful, capable, durable Macs ever. What’s coming?
The Future of the Mac
Allow me to compartmentalize the Mac into three futures—short term of a few years, mid-term of a decade, and long term. The pace of change in computing is sufficient that I won’t bother with long term.
Facial recognition? Voice control? Speech recognition? A sentient Mac that’s aware? Who knows? Not me. And not any time soon.
For the next few years the Mac will simply continue to evolve. Smaller, faster, lighter. Improved graphics, faster CPU’s, and in some respects, thanks to lessons learned in iOS, easier to use and less expensive apps. Legacy apps written in Carbon and Java will hold back the holy grail of resolution independence on Mac screens for a few years, but it will come and screen density will begin to rival that of the iPhone’s Retina Display.
Mac hard disk drives? They won’t die in five years, but kiss them gently into that good night.
Flash, SSD drives are here and now, blazingly fast, and will soon exceed storage capacity of hard disk drives.
Did I mention lighter? If you’ve ever held an 11-inch MacBook Air in your finger tips, you’ll understand lighter. Apple, at some point within a few years, will drop aluminum and move devices to those liquid metal-like enclosures that engineers and chemists have dreamed of.
The Mac As iDevice
Based on the initial success of Apple’s iPhone App Store and the similar Mac App Store, I see a pathway of convergence for Apple products. In other words, the Mac becomes an iDevice. Larger, more powerful, but the circular end path of the iPhone to iPad to MacBook Air path already evident.
As the Mac picks up more traits from the iOS interface, it will become the next member of the iDevice family. Mac OS X Lion in 2011, but Mac iOS in 2013. Predicting specifics of the future is probably a fool’s game. Predicting what Apple will do next is on the same line. But it sure is fun to watch.