There are times when I wonder what Apple has been doing since Steve Jobs died. Oh, wait. Watch. And spending $10-billion a year on R&D. That led me to think about the ultimate revolution Apple could bring to the world of computer gadgets. Start over.
What’s Old Is New
The problem as I see it is simple. Apple isn’t reinventing anything anymore. Everything is an iterative and incremental innovation– a big phrase for what amounts to mere change. Improvements, yes. Revolutions, no. It’s time for a new revolution and one way Apple could do that is to start over.
Today’s macOS Sierra and iOS 10 are huge, complicated, complex beasts of burden. The original Mac OS fit on a floppy disk drive. Today’s Mac Library and System, not to mention the built-in applications, takes up tens of gigabytes of storage. Every iteration of Mac OS, Mac OS X, and now macOS Sierra takes up more storage and is more complicated than ever. Complicated? Word on the streets says macOS has about 10,000 bugs; not urgent issues or exploited vulnerabilities, mind you, but bugs is bugs.
Apple, like Microsoft, like Linux, like various flavors of Unix, down through the years innovates by layers of iterations; incremental improvements to the basics– so much so that new features and functionality become more difficult to add because what’s new breaks what is old.
Our favorite Mac maker has been the arbiter of revolutionary change since the late 1970s. Apple II, Mac, LaserWriter, iMac, iPod, iTunes Music Store (itself based on archaic WebObjects from the 1980s), iPhone, App Store, iPad, and Watch. All of these products are based on much the same framework since co-founder Steve Jobs returned in 1997.
Apple’s ultimate revolution would be to start over. The company almost did just that back in late 1996 when it passed over the Be OS in favor of Jobs’ NeXT company’s operating system which became the bedrock for Mac OS X in 2001.
Starting Over Ain’t Easy
That’s putting it mildly. iTunes– the backend engine part– is convoluted, bolted on mess of technology that was thrown together almost overnight so Apple could take advantage of the iPod’s growing popularity and sell music (and TV shows, and movies, and applications, etc., ad nauseam). iTunes remains problematic for many of Apple’s customers, a crowded media mall on Black Friday.
How would Apple even start over with a new OS? Here’s an option. The Mac Pad. A Mac, yes. But a Mac with an Apple designed ARM CPU, A-Series 11 ‘Genesis’ would be a good name. No Intel Inside. Everything new and designed the way Apple’s engineers really want in a new Mac OS. Fast and lean, all the media basics built-in, but without all the legacy. Sorry, no Windows allowed inside. Once the Mac launched, then launch a new iPad with a new OS; dispense with the iEverything monicker and go mOS, for mobile devices. Apple has done this kind of revolution before so getting applications to compile for a new OS– though a step by step process– remains doable, and with minimum disruption.
Forget an electric Tesla-like car with an Apple logo. It’s time for a real revolution, Apple. Start over.