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The Mac As Just Another i-Screen in an iWorld. NO THANKS.

By - October 20, 2010

wired-pray.gifToday Apple announced a move that, on first blush, seems to push the Mac, its seminal and defining product, into the iWorld. You know, the world of Apple-controlled, closed, manicured gardens a la iPhone, iPod, iPad, and iTunes.

There’s going to be an “app store” for Macs, and the iPad OS is going to be integrated in the next release of the Mac.

If anything, ever, will make me leave Mac for good (and the companies I’ve started have purchased literally thousands of them), it will be the integration of the Mac OS into Steve Jobs’ vision of where mobile is going.

I’ll have a lot more to say about this once I’m well and truly smart on the announcements. But given the trajectory of Apple, which is now driven far more by iWorld than by Mac, I’m not holding out much hope for the Mac continuing to be a computer in any real sense of the word. You know, where a computer means you have choices as to what apps you run on it, what apps get developed for it, and how you express yourself using it.

Feh.

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18 thoughts on “The Mac As Just Another i-Screen in an iWorld. NO THANKS.

  1. dbsocial says:

    They specifically said the new Mac App Store won’t be the only way to get apps. They are not closing off the entire Mac into a “walled garden” or whatever you guys are calling it.

    I have never had a problem “expressing” myself on my Mac. I can install apps to OS X or Windows through VMware. My choice. Sounds like a “real computer” to me. If you think they are going to take that all away, you’re high.

    This “Searchblog” is not not what it use to be.

  2. AG says:

    What are you talking about? The OS is built on Unix… get a command line and compile anything that is opensource already. iLife comes for free for crying out load and iWork is for peanuts; don’t like it? Buy MS Office, or just download OpenOffice. Does the AppStore insult you that much? I actually consider it an obvious idea, since it is WAY easier to find out about new stuff (and use a trial period) than hunting it down on different websites or that silly “Downloads” section on Apple.com. So don’t use Apple products or the make, its not like there isn’t any alternative! Numbers show that Macs now is almost outselling DELL and ACER. Which just goes to show that there finally is a true and credible alternative to the Windows PC world.

  3. wonderwhy-er says:

    Well after buying iPhone years back and experiencing for my self where mobile computing is going I kind of feared that someone will be trying to do the same with PC world… For now they will not turn Mac in to tethered appliance iOS devices are but trajectory does point in iPad direction…

  4. The issue is about control over both what kinds of apps developers can build and the distribution of those apps.

    The iOS is a closed system. Developers do not have the freedom to build as they do with Windows (yes, Windows is more open than iOS) or Linux.

    It has worked for Apple beyond imagination in no part due to the fact that consumers want and love an integrated computer (iOS and MacOS devices) with all software working through a consistent UI.

    Is this the future of software development and distribution? I believe that is what Battelle and many others in technology are asking and fearing. Maybe computing, primarily through iOS devices, has almost reached the maturity stage or the so called main street. Apple is delivering products that not only your mother but your granny can use.

    On the other hand, maybe the Android system will allow unfethered access to software developers so that they can build products/services that would not be possible with iOS. For this to happen, Google and particularly its partners need to take their noses out of the trough to recognize that fragmentation of the Android platform and different UX/UIs demonstrates that they don’t get it and failure lies ahead.

    Consumers will go where developers take them. Today that is iOS devices.

  5. ps I forgot to add that discounting Microsoft with WP7 might not be wise even if it is the underdog today. From its inception, Microsoft’s mantra has been “developers, developers, developers” and it continues to be. By contrast, Google is a relative newcomer to addressing the needs of developers.

    Microsoft understands the value of an integrated hardware stack even if the parts come from many players, comprehensive api’s to all parts of the system and a consistent UI. Sure, Microsoft has made some monumental screw ups but it does understand developers.

    WP7 has received favorable reviews. Imagine if Nokia adopts WK7 or better still Microsoft acquires Nokia. Developers can then build as they wish without restrictions.

  6. dizdazdother says:

    What exactly has your knickers in a not? The changes to the UI? The App Store? Both in equal measure?

    I understand the direction of the UI changes. Maybe they’ll work, maybe they won’t. But at least I get why they’re going there. I don’t think the intent is to force iOSisms on OS X users; rather, I think the intent is to bring some new (and apparently winning) ideas from iOS “back to the Mac.” Just like they said. And if you don’t like them: don’t use them! The dock is still there, and full screen mode is optional.

    As to the App Store: again, I think the intent is to bring an apparently winning idea “back to the Mac.” For my wife, mother, daughters it will be a huge win. They can find apps in one spot, know that they’ll meet some minimal level of quality, they won’t have to worry about updates and they’ll be able to easily install any app they bought on any computer they buy. That’s a very big win.

    And I think it’ll be a big win for developers too. I think there’s a chance this could be a big boost for sales–especially for good/popular apps.

    Of course, if developers don’t like the App Store they don’t have to put their apps there. And if users don’t like the App Store they don’t have to buy their apps there.

    So when you have a chance, please do tell: what exactly is it that has your knickers in a knot?

  7. Toby says:

    I agree with John’s sentiment and concerns, but I have to say the message looks a bit foolish on a blog with Facebook widgets all over it (!!!)

  8. I hope they’re smarter than that. The Mac “ecosystem” is far too diverse to be forced into the iOS mold. Think of all the people using Macs for software development (e.g., last I heard, the entire Rails core team), scientific computing (e.g., my old lab at Duke University, where we ran a huge variety of programs we wrote ourselves, got from other academics, or once in a while bought from some company), and many other tasks incompatible with the packaged-goods approach to software. Making it harder to develop software under Mac OS would be particularly stupid.

    If they aren’t smarter than that, well, back to Linux.

  9. P Evans says:

    I would amend Ralph Haygood’s statement with
    “If they aren’t smarter than that, well, forward to Linux.” Certainly a big part of the success of OS X has been the combination of facile and beautiful (and inexpensive) applications combined with the *nix underpinnings. I’ve loved it, and would say I’ve had some of the most productive time of my career with Macs. I don’t fear an iOS takeover nearly like Mr Battelle, but if it happens I know Ubuntu will do me just fine.

  10. Adam says:

    John,

    I’ve been reading your site regularly since before you wrote The Search. Your writing is at its worst when covering Apple-related concerns, and rants like these make me want to visit your site less. Please don’t blog about Apple, your site will be better off without it.

  11. food says:

    Um, entertaining rant.

    As a developer, I don’t like the increasing control over the software ecosystem His Steveness is exerting. The man’s a design genius, as the company’s products (and his bank account) demonstrate. But if, as I expect, software from outside the App Store comes to be viewed as dodgey, the cost will be higher than the 30% tax.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    As for the iOS UI elements creeping back, whatever. As far as I can tell, it is just a sort of ‘focus’ mode – black out everything around your word processor view. Meh. Too many of us live wiht Xcode, a text editor, Mail.app, a Twitter client, iTunes, a terminal, a browser, etc. etc. open all at once for them to domb down the UI completely.

    And if Jobs has, in fact, completely lost his mind, well, there’s Linux, which is just fine these days. Not as polished as a Mac, but fine.

  12. Drew says:

    John
    as it is said before Mac OS X is a “unix-like” operating system (it is based on FreeBSD and NetBSD + NeXT)
    You can install any application you want, you can compile your own app, download source code and compile..whatever you want. You can use Apple’s XCode, you can use gcc for Mac OS X ..whatever you want
    Jobs’s App Store is just a tool of distribution of soft, one of many, you can go to Fry’s or GameStop or you can use AppStore

  13. Omar Khan says:

    I think that you are too pessimistic, for the computer too is evolving and moving away from discs is a natural evolution of the platform. I like the way that Apple is learning from the iPhone and taking lessons back to other platforms. I remember that your predictions about the iPad were off too.

    Apple’s control system is irritating, despite its benefits, but also points the way for others to do better, like perhaps Amazon’s upcoming Android App store.

  14. MIke Kaspar says:

    I think it’s worth withholding judgment until we have more details. I agree with one of the earlier comments ‘the searchblog is not what it used to be’. We’ve come to expect more here.

  15. Jose says:

    If all of these Mac App Store/iOS is the death of mac OS doomsayers are correct then why has apple yet to delete terminal.app??

    To use Steve Term Apple will always be in the “Truck” business.

  16. Adam Edwards says:

    Of course this is where the Mac is headed. Why else are they so keen to push the iPad and the MacBook Air? It’s to blur the lines and give Steve complete control.

  17. superchargers says:

    Awesome read. I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that.
    He actually bought me lunch because I found it for him! So let me rephrase:
    thank you for lunch!

  18. turbocharger says:

    Awesome read. I just passed this onto a friend who was doing some research on that.
    He actually bought me lunch because I found it for him! So let me rephrase:
    thank you…

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