Then along came the Mac, NeXT, Pixar, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, and iPad; all hallmarks of the digital generation. If Jobs were alive today would he be working on the next great thing? What would it be?
Touchscreen? Keyboard? Voice?
If you haven’t tried it yet, stop by a store that carries Windows PCs, and check out the Microsoft Surface with the keyboard.
Forget the fact that the device runs slowly, isn’t very intuitive to use, and that there are few Windows RT apps available (certainly nothing to compete with iPad apps).
Forget the fact that even Microsoft Office on Windows RT is sluggish and obviously not touch friendly.
The fact is that touch is here to stay. For awhile.
I’ve been think about touch devices. The iPad mini is a nearly perfect size and a wonderful user experience, despite the crummy screen.
The Surface, on the other hand, has that built-in and optional keyboard. Obviously, Microsoft is trying to leverage Windows for all it’s worth, and differentiate itself from Apple, and apply the Windows Phone formerly-known-as-Metro interface to PC users.
If the Surface actually worked well, and there were plenty of useful apps, Microsoft might have some success with a tablet that worked well as a tablet, and worked well as an ultrabook.
If Apple is indeed working on the next great thing, could it be a hybrid Mac with a touchscreen and ultra thin keyboard and trackpad? Think of the advantages of running iOS apps on a Mac with OS X (or, simply an iOS for Mac operating system with Macs that use Apple-designed ARM chips instead of Intel Inside).
Or, carried to an extreme, as iOS apps become more powerful and capable, an iPad with a Surface-like keyboard.
It’s fun to speculate about the next great thing and all the permutations of mixing and matching current technology to create future technology. I do so because I’m not convinced that the real next great thing is here yet. What is it? Voice recognition.
Siri is fun, sometimes useful, but far more frustrating than it should be. Apple has plenty of work to do to embed Siri into iOS, or even make it available on OS X for Mac users.
For now, and for the foreseeable future, Apple’s customers will do things the old fashioned way. We type, we point, we click, and we touch. The next great thing needs to go beyond what we already do.