The iPad, Curated Computing and a closed Mac
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The iPad, Curated Computing and a closed Mac

A lot has been made of last week's forecast by RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky that predicts Apple is now selling more iPads than Macs. And it's garnered some speculation that we may see Macs that are more iPad-like.

Abramsky says that, by his estimates, Apple sells more than 200,000 iPads per week in the U.S., a total greater than the estimated 110,000 Macs sold stateside every seven days. Obviously, people love the Apple tablet, as well as the iPhone and iPod touch, so I do think we'll see future Macs that adopt features from the iPhone OS.

In fact, Forrester Research (http://www.alacrastore.com/research/forrester-Apple_s_iPad_Is_A_New_Kind...) says the iPad will ushers in a new era of "Curated Computing" -- a mode of computing in which choice is constrained to deliver more relevant, less complex experiences. Curated Computing is necessary to empower alternative form factors, such as touchscreen tablets, wearable and ambient devices, game consoles, and connected TVs.

Forrester Research says the iPad's Curated Computing experience makes the tablet form factor viable for the first time since it was introduced commercially more than two decades ago. The time is right to promote tablets as a fourth form factor for the multiple-computer-owning consumer, the research group says -- though, of course, the tablet's success beyond the iPad isn't a given.

Forrester Research says that product strategists hoping to build a market for tablets will have to reshape consumers' expectations of what a computer can be and how it fits into their lives alongside desktops, laptops, and smartphones. That's been my position all along; the iPad isn't a replacement for a Mac; it's a complimentary device -- a Mac sidekick, if you will.

Writing for the Unofficial Apple Weblog (http://www.tuaw.com/2010/05/17/could-a-closed-mac-be-in-apples-future/), Erica Sadun had an interesting theory: what if Apple released a "closed Mac" a la the iPad. She notes that under the hood, the iPhone OS is virtually the same as the Mac OS X that runs on Macs. It's just a "closed" OS.

With the success of the iPhone and iPod touch, Erica thinks Apple may be considering a "closed" Mac," sort of a cross between a current Mac and the iPad. She also notes that she's not suggesting that Apple would drop traditional OS X systems since people still need development computers and production-quality computers.

"But consider how many people currently purchase iMacs and Mac Books, who generally do not need much in the way of advanced features," Erica writes. "How many of them might benefit from a desktop system that's more iPad-like than iMac-like? A closed desktop Mac would have to offer a lot more computing flexibility than the iPad offers. It would have to support mouse and keyboard interaction, better multitasking, and the ability to do business-quality work like accounting, document preparation, image editing, and so forth. And yet, you could imagine Apple preparing an OS and software that addresses these needs using a richer version of the iPhone OS frameworks, stepping outside of the current OS X evolutionary path."

It's an intriguing idea, but I'm a little dubious it will happen. I do think we'll see the iPhone OS in more devices (such as the Apple TV). And I think the success of the iPad will mean big changes to the Mac line -- you can read my thoughts here: http://www.macnews.com/2010/05/13/ipad-wont-kill-apples-products-it-will... .

But for now, it seems to me that the differentiation between iPhone OS and Mac OS X devices is clear. The former is (mainly) for content consumption, while the latter is necessary for content creation.

-- Dennis Sellers

 

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