I was going to post this on a blog somewhere, but I couldn't decide which one, and I thought I'd give Google+ a chance as a platform for discussions.Where Apple's taking IOS
A couple of years ago, Forrester's Frank Gillett gave a presentation on the Personal Cloud. Buzzword jerrymandering aside, he observed that tomorrow, we'll pick a personal cloud platform—Facebook, Google, Apple, Yahoo, MSN—the way we used to show allegiance to a PC vendor like Dell, Gateway, or Compaq.
Recently, I was discussing what Apple is up to with a roomful of people smarter than myself, and came to some interesting conclusions. If we look at the history of personal computing, the relationship between people and their machines has changed substantially.
* In the early days of the PC, we had one machine per family, and even one email inbox per family.
* Then webmail like Hotmail made it possible to have one account per person
* Then relatively cheap computers and notebooks made it one machine per person
* Today, of course, we have n
machines per n
people, all interchangeable.
I think OSX Lion has tipped Steve Jobs' hand a lot. Jobs is a guy who doesn't like to be wrong, and armed with that knowledge, we can infer much about where Apple is going in coming years.NeXT is what's next
To understand this, I want you to look back at NeXT. Read the Wikipedia entry (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NeXT
), then come back.
NeXT was a revolutionary idea, well before its time. Many elements of the NeXT computer are built into that Macbook you're sitting in front of. And with OSX Lion, many features are dragging us towards a future where that Macbook is simply the terminal you use to get to your online, Apple-controlled world.Some hints from Lion
Consider that in Lion, Apple has made the following changes:Multi-user features:
Showing the username of the currently logged-in user more prominently in the upper right corner suggests a future of multi-user configurations, where many people are using a machine.Dragging us into the cloud:
Permanent intermittent saving is a way of pulling all of your data into the cloud one file revision at a time, without calling it that, because incremental file saving is a gateway drug to remote backups.Simple, automatic nearfield communications:
The new Airdrop feature, designed to simplify local file sharing, allows a localized network that’s more straightforward and more secure than a traditional network, and describes a path towards robust nearfield communication.Retraining humans:
Computer users are familiar with a wheelmouse (move your finger down to scroll up.) Tablet users don't scroll down; they "push" the content up. With Lion, Apple has reversed the traditional mouse gesture in favor of a post-mouse interface. Upgrading all of us to think of interaction as a touch action (pushing the content upwards) versus a mouse action (scrolling the mouse down) is nothing short of a civil war, and not undertaken lightly.
Why spend so much time on this? Well, for one thing, the moment everyone interacts with a mousepad the way they interact with a touchscreen, every iPhone and iPad app works on a Mac, too.Getting iPhones into the hands of many:
The rumoured iPhone 5 Lite not only gets Apple into new markets and new carriers, it also gets it into the hands of everyone—because an iPhone is the passport to Apple's digital marketplace.Turning your mobile IOS device into single-sign-on:
The iPhone can provide strong multi-factor authentication (an access code, biometrics like facial recognition or gestural patterns, and the location of the phone as gleaned from cell towers and GPS.) In that way, it’s like the RSA keys used for single-sign-on.
If you unlock your phone near a Macbook, and I can associate your unlock and location with the account on that machine, I have a decent amount of confidence that you are really you.Moving from purchase to perpetual license:
Think about the moment that bandwidth was greater than the bitrate of music, plus an acceptable buffer rate. Suddenly, it's possible to stream music (a service) rather than sell it. iCloud’s knowledge of what music, books, and apps you own, and the changes they’ve put into buttons within the App Store to reflect this, show that Apple is moving to an on-demand world.
Forcing people to buy Lion in the App Store is a heavy-handed way to get everyone using it. But soon it’ll be easier (and more secure, and more compliant with copyright) to stream a song to you than to sync music. And when you're streaming songs, you may as well stream content, and applications.It's all about divorcing you from your machine
One of the most innovative things about NEXT was multitenancy. Designed for universities, the computer had a swappable hard drive you could carry around. Plug it into a machine in the lab and it was your machine, with your settings. around their hard drives, and the computer configured itself to them. That hard drive was just 40 Megabytes.
That's scarcely the size of an iPhone app.
Mark Zuckerberg once characterized the use of tablets as "leisure computing." We assume different postures when we compute: ear to phone, hand to lap, keys to keyboard, hands to wheel, and so on. With so many postures, our content has to be in the cloud, and our identity (and local cache) has to be on our hips.
If there’s one thing we know about Jobs, it’s that he likes to be proven right in the long term. The big audacious goal of NEXT was to separate the computer from the act of computing, and with the relegation of a Mac to an input device this finally comes true.
So I'd postulate that Apple wants to hasten the demise of the personal computer
, in part because doing so accelerates the rise of a personal cloud, with Apple in the middle of it. In the new world, a Macbook or iMac is simply a terminal, and your mobile device is your identity.
It's Jobs' vision of NeXT, dragged into an era of ubiquitous computing. And he gets to be right in the end once again.