Will Apple's iOS and Mac OS X Remain Separate? Discussion

Discussion in 'Headline News' started by Jacqueline Emigh, Sep 25, 2010.

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  1. Jacqueline Emigh

    Jacqueline Emigh TechnologyGuide Editor

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  2. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    I'm not buying it. If Apple could get OS X to run on a device the size of the iPad with the same performance, it would have done so already.

    So there would only be two options:

    1. Strip OS X to the bone, and then chop off a bunch of the bone, to get it to run on an ultralight tablet. Then chop off more bone to put it on a smartphone.
    2. Double or triple the size of the iPad to make room for the faster processor, much more storage, and a bulky battery necessary to run the full version of OS X. Oh yeah, and double or triple the price. And I don't even want to think about what it would take to make the iPhone capable of running a full desktop operating system.

    Apple's current strategy of offering two operating systems seems the better option.

    Going way out on a limb, I think it's more likely that Apple will drop Mac OS X someday and just make iOS-based phones and tablets.
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  3. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Mobile Deity

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    They can't just drop Mac OS X like that, especially not when the iOS requires an OS X or Windows computer with iTunes to unlock it. They'd have to make it truly independent first. Furthermore, what do you think all those iOS apps are developed on? That's right-Mac OS X with Xcode, and Apple provides no development solutions for other desktop OSes.

    Even then, dropping OS X would still be a bad move. I'm willing to bet that there are many Mac OS X users out there who aren't willing to put up with Windows or Linux, but don't want to put up with the iOS walled garden, either.
     
  4. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    I'm not talking about Apple dropping OS X next week, or even next year. Maybe in 5 years, though. A lot will have changed by then.

    Suppose iOS devices are 95% of Apple's business in 2015. Would it still make sense for the company to spend the money to update OS X and develop the hardware? It would probably be more profitable to find other solutions.

    If Apple dropped the Mac line, I could see it releasing iOS development tools for Windows. It makes iTunes for Windows, doesn't it?
     
  5. Hook

    Hook Phone Killer ;-) Arrrrr...f

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    As usual, I think these discussions focus too much on the consumer market. Computers are not going to be replaced anytime soon in the commercial vertical markets that Mac owns such as Art design, Film and some areas of Academia.

    Handhelds may really be all some consumers need, but we aren't getting rid of computers with sizable screens and real keyboards anytime soon. Maybe when we have environmental computing like Minority Report or the Holodeck, but translated into motion sensors and a retinal projection.
     
  6. r0k

    r0k Dazed

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    iOS is OS X. A jailbroken iPhone has pretty much the same OS underpinnings as Darwin on OS X. In fact, I bet you could get mouse drives running on a jailborken iPad and use the thing like a computer.

    As for bridging iOS and OS X, I would imagine Apple plans to replace Dashboard with the ability to run iOS apps on OS X using the same keyboard shortcut that once invoked dashboard. With the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad, Apple has already brought the ability to use the same touch interface on its desktops and notebooks. But that doesn't mean Apple will jettison full computers any time soon.

    I use a Macbook and an iPad. There is no way an iPad is going to replace my Macbook. By 2015 maybe, but I would wager it won't do so as long as iOS cannot run "real" desktop applications. The way around this would be to offer keyboard and mouse support on the iPad and have an "OS X" mode it could go into when those devices are present. But as a standalone device, the phone variant of OS X known as iOS can only go so far with touch input. Right now I can control my Mac from my iPad but it is somewhat painful compared to sitting at my Mac or compared to working with native iPad apps that are designed for touch. Just because Microsoft can't get a clue doesn't mean Apple has to lose the clue they have. A touch based OS will probably never fully replace the desktop OS. Compare it to playing a FPS or RTS game on a console versus with a keyboard and mouse. If you are in a FPS or RTS game on a console and somebody on a desktop joins you know it pretty much right away. More input is better than less input when it comes to controlling a computer. I'm not saying the iPad isn't an excellent portable device. It is. It's just not a full computer. Will Apple wind up dropping Macbooks to sell iPads? Perhaps, but only if they offer the ability to use hardware keyboards and external mice.

    I remember when notebooks first came out and people were debating whether they could replace desktops. Sure it happened, but it didn't happen until notebooks became as powerful as desktops. Now we are having the same debate about tablets. As long as tablets don't offer a file system or the ability to create content from scratch, they are only a convenience device. Nothing more. Yet.

    What could speed things up? Android. If Android tablets start to erode iPad market share by offering a real filesystem and the ability to create content, I expect Apple to respond by moving iPad up the food chain in terms of the ability to do real work.
     
  7. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    Let's think about the bottom line. How much money is Apple making off of these markets? Is it enough to justify the cost of Mac OS X operating system and development? What about in 5 years or more?

    It's possible that in 5 years or so selling Macs to graphic designers, film makers, and teachers could be such a small part of Apple's business that it will drop them. Companies make the most money when they focus on do what they do best, and looking ahead I see Apple increasingly becoming a smartphone and tablet maker, not a desktop and laptop maker.
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  8. Ed Hardy

    Ed Hardy TabletPCReview Editor Staff Member

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    Just to throw some numbers into the mix, here's a quote from Apple's most recent financial report:
    So Apple sold about 11.7 million iOS devices vs. just under 3.5 million OS X ones in the second quarter of this year. And the iOS number is certainly much higher, because some percentage of the 9.4 million iPods were iPod touches.

    So more than 3 times as many iOS-based products were sold as OS X-based ones.

    I'm sure you noticed that sales of Macs increased dramatically, but at about half the rate that salees of iPhones increased. If these trends continue, the Mac OS X portion of the company is going to become proportionally smaller and smaller compared to the iOS portion.
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  9. r0k

    r0k Dazed

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    If Apple can keep Apple TV around as a hobby, I bet they can keep full OS X around for years to come. I don't think Apple cares about desktop market share and this is why they refuse to license OS X. I think they care about making more money selling less stuff. They sell 17 million out of 400 million phones but rake in 39% of the profit. They sell a tiny fraction of pc's but dominate the high end for laptops and to a lesser extent for workstations. They sell 8 gig music players for $200 despite the fact there are 8 gig music players available at Walmart for $50.

    I have a copy of the dev tools for iOS. They are the same tools used for OS X. Could Apple make a cross compiler to allow development on Windows? I suppose they could but there is money to be made selling iOS apps and buying an Apple computer is part of the price of entry. Apple doesn't mind that one little bit. And no, OS X is not a "distraction" despite its declining share of Apple revenue and profit.

    It was Apple's decision to go to a *nix based OS that made it possible to build a scalable OS that could run on a desktop and leave out a few chunks and also run on a phone. iOS is related to OS X in much the same way Android and other Linux derivatives are related to Linux. Sure the kernels are smaller and there are less libraries and apps installed in the desktop flavors of each OS but at the core of the modern smartphone OS is Unix.

    The only market Apple plays in with huge market share is iPods and the iPod is starting to shrink faster than any other segment Apple sells. Happily iPod sales are being cannibalized by more expensive iPads and iPhone sales. This is a good problem to have. I wish I was in the position of trying to sell something cheap only to have my customers clamoring to climb up my price ladder to get premium devices. Yeah, baby!

    So the way I see it, Apple has two emerging "hobbies" going forward. Computer sales and iPod sales. They aren't about to give up on either one. iPods make excellent little trojan horses that lead to future iPhone sales. I know because it worked for me. My iPod Touch squeezed blackberry out of my life. As I've said before, as computer sales become more of a hobby Apple will keep making them. I believe a time will come when I can "get away" with nothing but my iPad. Perhaps Apple will sell access to full OS X on that server farm they have down south. We will be able to buy time on a fractional Mac and use it as our desktop and "sync" to it as if we owned a full Mac. Everything would be always backed up and all we would need would be an internet connection to get to our stuff. As always, iPad would be able to do some things locally so I wouldn't mind being "cut off" as long as I remembered to bring along what I need locally. Perhaps there will be a new "upper tier" of mobile me that comes with this virtual Mac. The reason I'm proposing this is I'd rather have an underpowered machine with great battery life with me and be able to log in to a "mothership" when I need pi to 3,000,000 places. So even if Macs wither to a miniscule portion of Apple's business, I'm sure Apple will offer "full os x" in some way or form for decades to come.

    Oh and yes, iOS and OS X will continue to be marketed separately even if the kernels become identical.
     
  10. Hook

    Hook Phone Killer ;-) Arrrrr...f

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    Also keep in mind that those 3.5 million OSX units have a much higher average price tag and probably profit margin than the iOS units. Not to mention that, software and peripheral-wise, Macs are the gift that keeps on giving. ;)

    Whether computers as we know them go away, it isn't going to be because they can be replaced by iOS on a handheld.

    Right now, Apple has 2 profitable businesses. Computers (OSX) and Media content (iOS). And I think both will continue to grow.
     
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