The Mac is still the center of the digital lifestyle/hub
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The Mac is still the center of the digital lifestyle/hub

Were you as glad as I was with the announcements of the new MacBook Pros yesterday? It's not that I'm in the market for a new laptop; it's just that I'm glad to see some love for what I maintain is still Apple's most important product line: the Mac.

A lot of pundits see the iPad as more evidence of Apple's plan to move to a "post personal computer world." I don't think that such a world is coming because: a) the iPad, iPod touch, iPhone, etc., are actually offshoots of the personal computer, even running a variant of Mac OS X, and b) none of those devices can replace a full fledged personal computer for many tasks.

That said, I do believe that iPad-like devices will replace some computers (mainly netbooks and entry-level laptops, to some extend). But those devices will still be spokes in a digital hub. The center of that digital hub will be the personal computer. And the personal computer occupying that center spot will increasingly be the Mac.

In 2008, Forrester Research predicted that Apple would become the hub of the digital home by 2013. The research firm said that Apple had completely remade itself from a computer only maker to a consumer devices and digital music leader.

In Forrester's vision, Apple isn't ditching the Mac. Instead, it plans to offer key products and services to connect computers and digital content to the HDTV-stereo audio-visual infrastructure in consumers' homes.

Under that scenario (which makes sense to me), the personal computer is only going to grow in importance. Even Apple CEO Steve Jobs once described the Mac as the digital hub of the digital lifestyle. iPods, iPhones, iPads, Apple TVs and whatever other iDevices Apple comes up with are great. But they need to tie into a personal computer. And with the increasing abundance of music, video and publications going online, the Mac will increasingly become a necessity for a digital lifestyle even as the Mac OS borrows features and ideas from the iPhone OS.

Right now, the biggest innovations do seem to be coming in post-computer devices, but there are still revolutionary developments to come for the computer itself. Longer battery life. Bigger, "foldable" displays. Major advancements in processing power, graphics and storage that will open up doors to new avenues of computing. Computers that talk to us and us to them (a la "Star Trek")? It will happen. Holographic images, true 3D gaming, 3D video viewing? It's a matter of time.

Hopefully, Apple and the Mac will be on the leading edge of personal computer developments, combining high tech with ease of use and stylish designs. After all, the company makes the best computers around -- even if they don't grab the spotlight as much as the new kids on the block, such as the iPad, do.


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