Ever since Apple unveiled details about this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), pundits and hysterical-minded developers near and far have been predicting the death of the Mac. This week, Daniel “Fake Steve Jobs” Lyons stirred the pot some more in his Newsweek blog, which I’m not going to bother to link to, because frankly I think it’s tripe and I don’t want to push any more page impressions his way than I absolutely have to.
The bottom line is this – the Mac (and PC) is alive and well and will continue to be for some time to come. It’s great that Steve Jobs is forward-thinking enough to envision a “post-PC era,” but that doesn’t mean things are over for the Mac, not by a long shot.
Let’s look at the facts: Apple’s selling Macs. Apple’s selling a lot of Macs, in fact – its business is better than ever, even if Macs now make up only a percentage of its total hardware sales revenue when compared with iPhones, iPods and iPads. For as long as Apple sells Macs, it’s likely to make them.
At the Wall Street Journal’s D8 conference earlier this month, Jobs used a vehicle analogy to describe how he saw the evolution of the personal computer. He likened PCs to trucks, saying that only a small percentage of the population will actually need them.
That may very well be true. Anecdotally, I know a lot of people for whom using a computer, even a Mac, can be an overwhelming experience. For them, the iPad (or something like it), with all of its limitations and drawback for people who want a visible file system or “open” operating system or hardware design, may be the perfect option.
The idea of creating information appliances to make it easier for those consumers to access the data they need is not new – it’s been around for years, and the road to hell is already paved with the good intentions of many companies that have developed failed products designed to do exactly that. The advantage Apple has is a combination of innovation, market visibility and timing.
Surely, many, if not most, of the people reading my words scoff at the very idea of being without a computer, or being forced to only use an information appliance like an iPad. Indeed, I’d find such a future rather appalling myself.
But sooner or later we have to accept that Apple isn’t building products exclusively for us – that there are a lot of people out there who have a lot of different needs, a lot of different interests and a range of different requirements.
The world isn’t black and white. Apple understands this implicitly and that’s why they’re building a range of products to appeal to different people.
WWDC 2010 was squarely focused this year at bolstering a brand new ecosystem that Apple has created out of whole cloth in two years. It’s an ecosystem that has already returned a staggering $1 billion to its development community, as Jobs noted in his keynote address earlier this week.
None of which would have been possible if people didn’t have Macs to work on to begin with. Let’s not forget: you need a Mac to develop for the iPhone.
Some will argue that it’s only a matter of time before that changes. I guess that’s true. According to some of the television programs I watch on the science channels, all life on Earth may be destroyed by a rogue asteroid or megavolcano at any moment, as well.
At some point or another, we have to stop bouncing off the walls worrying about what might happen, put on our big boy pants and get back to work.