Will Apple Define The Future?

by Aaron Wright Aug 02, 2006

The year is 2030, Microsoft is virtually no more. With Bill Gates’ resignation 22 years previous, three virus ridden and rather lacking operating systems, both missing their original release dates by a couple (and then some) years, and several failed pieces of hardware that promised to ‘revolutionize’ the IT industry, it was bound to happen. On top of its failed ventures, the one-time big cat has also been eaten up by even larger cats (excuse the pun), most notably, Unix and its famous child, Mac OS.

Unix is still floating about in several forms on modern day PC’s, but it’s the high-tech OS XV developed by Apple that is taking center stage with the innovative companies’ market share up at around 80%, a pleasurable number among Apple fan-boys, I’ll have you know. How did Apple get there? Well it was, of course, its beautiful selection of hardware at a variety of costs aimed at students, average home users, hardcore home users and business folk, built with the fabulous OS XV, nicknamed Canadian Hairless—Apple had by this time begun using obscure cat names as all the big/decent ones have been used. Whilst Microsoft has continued to slump with dull products and questionable operating systems, Apple Computer has been innovating and trying new ways to help the IT world function, and this has lead to its success.

The iPod I hear you ask? Why, what’s an iPod? We haven’t seen those for a good 18 or so years now. Oh no, welcome to the modern day, we’ve got the voice-activated iChip now, a small device the size of a french fry (I had you with chip eh?) which can store a good 10,000+ CD quality songs on it—a quick touch of a button will display a screen as well, although don’t get me started on how this works because I’ve not sussed it yet, great video quality I’m told though. Did I hear someone ask what happened to that Zune player Microsoft released and the other hardware companies striving to ‘kill off’ the iPod? Well, they’re all still working on killing off the iPod, despite its death back in 2012.

So, Apple leads the world in mobile music and personal computing, what’s next? Well, that’s probably not as important as all the court cases it’s going to get. Unfortunately for Apple, whilst its success derived from a combination of beautiful machines and exquisite operating systems, said beauty is also going to be its falling point, as governments and corporations all over the world become more and more frustrated with Apple for keeping its operating system stuck on Apple’s own computers. Companies such as HP and Dell want a piece of the action as well you know, having been stuck with using Microsoft Windows for all those years, it would be nice for a change.


...Rewind! Of course, with the death of Microsoft and the popularity of Apple Computer taking over, there’s going to be a spot for the 2nd place, so who will take that? The open source community is ever growing and with the Linux systems becoming more and more stable, companies such as Dell could possibly buy or develop their own OS and compete head on with Apple. It’s certainly not impossible. Could this then be the way forward for personal computing? Hardware companies coding their own operating systems to fit perfectly with their own computers.

What about mobile media? The iPod revolutionized mp3 players back in 2001, with their popularity becoming so large that other companies will have surely given up competing with them. But what if a company such as Dell became as big as Apple is becoming now, at present, and uses that power to push forward the sale of a beautiful and innovative media player of its own? Again, not impossible, but in realistic terms and given how Apple have developed something so pure in the first place, it’ll still be a challenge.

As far as predicting what other products Apple Computer will release in a good 22 years time is ridiculously difficult to say and that’s not really the point of my writing. But is it not possible that, when, not if, Microsoft finally dies off with its incredibly out-of-date ideas, Apple will be able to lead the way forward for personal computing?


  • I wish!

    My only fear is that if Apple gets that big they may start conducting business in the same destructive, anti-competitive way as Microsoft.  I think they like being the underdog (to some extent) and it also keeps them in check.

    veridicus had this to say on Aug 02, 2006 Posts: 6
  • In 24 years the Steve will be taking naps more than being aware of his reality distortion field.

    But let’s say your very “creative and imaginative” ideas comes to fruition, the following will be said:

    1. Apple no longer monopolizes the hardware: this is perhaps the by-product of having your market share at the critical mass (say 40-50%) or the feds will have field-day with your legal dept.

    2. The PC as we know it (bulky and unuser-friendly) is thrown to the dumpster a decade earlier in favor of miniscule devices that outperforms their PC ancestors by a magnitude.

    3. Broadband pipes are now “limitless” bandwidth served via fiber-to-the-homes (FTTH) with one monolith of a provider - AT&T (the feds will bless this, mind you, it is called a natural monopoly - again). That means ALL Apple products revolve around the home and not just the living room.

    4. As a result of #3, Apple is now a de-facto CE company - perhaps borderline “monopoly” but I will not be inclined to say that yet. Apple will be producing products like Sony and Samsung does now. The only twist is that these Apple devices are inherently Appleist - simple yet powerful.

    5. The iPod has already evolved and usurped the Mac lines (refer to #2). The iPod (or any other moniker Apple comes up with) will be the gold standard for Apple’s licensees to produce. Apple still gets fat profits for their reference designs and, of course, system software - the Mac OS XV?

    Great article, Aaron. Nice humour for all Apple fan-boys to digest. wink

    Robomac had this to say on Aug 02, 2006 Posts: 846
  • Hey, great article…

    Dell won’t develop an O/S - they don’t spend much on hardware R&D, and their market is corporate where something as wild as a brand new o/s is not going to catch on quick…  Nope - not sure what will become of Dell as, in reality, this is just a manufacturing (largely outsourced at that) and distribution business.

    HP or IBM could develop an O/S - they both have done this many times before.  They might start with one of the Unix flavours and do what Apple did I suppose.  But the corporate world is moving back to mainframes and minicomputers, having tired with their flirtation with thick desktop clients.

    Apple may well have 80% of the home entertainment business in the timeframe you specify - though I suspect the iPod trick will not be so easy to replicate…

    sydneystephen had this to say on Aug 03, 2006 Posts: 124
  • This could be reality even sooner than 2030. If Linux developers get on the ball and work with Apple to remove a common enemy and design the systems to co-integrate which is ENTIRELY possible today since they both can use X11 windowing system along with nativly compiled editions that speak the same language.

    iPod going away… Never… It’ll just morph into something else even better than the last. This is E-Volution at it’s best.

    What the real trick is gonna be will be on the desktop side. Apple has done it with making a desktop not a desktop but still a desktop through design and inovational hurldes but there still desktops. Mind you that’s not a bad thing. The bad thing is this: Keybord and mouse. Once these items are somehow reduced you’ll see more desktops off the desk and displayed as proudly as the American TV is now. Maybe the keyboard gets the iTouch system for the mouse and maybe the keyboard get’s a reduced set of keys with special keys popping up on screen or being a distinct area on the board that you press or hover-click on…

    Either way the Future is Apple Computer and OS X and this I’m hearing from both Linux and Window IT leaders as well. I’m not the first nor the last IT Specialist to jump ship and once Vista is released you’ll see an even LARGER jump from the corporate world.

    Why? Look at it this way. An 8 year old iMac G3 can run OS X.4 and most likely will run X.5 to a certain extent. And it runs it faster than the original OS that came with it. You can’t say the same for PC’s. In fact there worse and Vista won’t run on any PC released last year or prior not to mention most of the sub $1k PC’s selling today without upgrades. So a corporation, doing the smart thing, will look to other venues. We’ll see Linux take the lead at first if they can get Vertical Market apps in place. Followed at a similar pace as Apple who allready has the VM apps available. Only following due to hardware purchase but when it’s clear that an Apple computer has a longer operating life, reduced power consumption in most cases, and reduced maintanence issues for the lifespan corporate world will follow suite (or is that Suit).

    xwiredtva had this to say on Aug 03, 2006 Posts: 172
  • I’m not the first nor the last IT Specialist to jump ship and once Vista is released you’ll see an even LARGER jump from the corporate world. -xwired

    Welcome aboard the “grey but underway” battlecruiser we call the Mac, Xwired. I am very awed at what you just stated above, and I hope that is correct when Leopard and Vista is finally compared apples-to-apples (pun intended).

    I already see that in my company. Just yesterday, my formerly risk-averse CTO got to purchase my “wants” of MacBooks. After showing him how to have XP in those darn things, he glowed with confidence. Apple you better be ready to fill those orders in the next 18 months and beyond.

    And xwired, that would be “follow suit” per my limited vocabulary.

    Robomac had this to say on Aug 03, 2006 Posts: 846
  • Much as I like Apple’s products all I can say is:  Dream On!  grin

    tundraboy had this to say on Aug 03, 2006 Posts: 132
  • tundraboy - what is life without dreams?  that is where creativity comes from after all.  Do microsoft afficionados dream too?  Are there any microsoft afficionados?

    actually, that is an important point here.  there are lots of apple fans today, quivering with excitement in expectation at the prospect of new apple products next week…

    can one say the same about microsoft?  is anyone excited by Zune?

    sydneystephen had this to say on Aug 03, 2006 Posts: 124
  • Zune… sounds like Dune…

    Dodgy old books, dodgy film, not a bad mini series on Sky

    But agree or disagree with the analogy… are not MS the House Harkonnen to Apple’s House Atradies? (apologies for the possible misspellings…) and no I don’t mean the messaanic overtones… though no doubt there are plenty of fanboys (of which I admit to being one) who would be happy to see Steve in the Paul Atradies role…)

    No I am thinking more of the political manoueveres of one great house against another.. and to be honest doesn’t the role of the “Freeman” fall to Linux?

    Think about it… MS as Harkkonen, Steve Jobs as Paul Atradies and Linux Community as the Freeman…

    Just a thought…

    Serenak had this to say on Aug 03, 2006 Posts: 26
  • xwiredtva, I just want to say I really enoyed your post above! It’s put me right in the spirit of WWDC (not that I needed much encouragement)!

    I have just a couple of things to add on the subject of operating system compatibility.

    When I consider the current crop of Mac hardware, I find it virtually impossible to imagine that it could ever reasonably be obsoleted. That is, and I think the industry is waking up to this, we have already reached a point of diminishing returns on increasing computational power, in the sense that any computer on the market today is easily powerful enough for all the non-gaming consumer applications computers are used for, were they written efficiently.

    Now, I can see that in a longer time-frame there are still computational limitations to be overcome. Hard drives for instance represent an appalling bandwidth bottleneck in today’s computers. If this were alleviated, the speed with which even the cheapest modern computer could accomplish ordinary tasks would be virtually instantaneous. When (not if) this happens, software will of course adapt so as to take advantage of high-speed mass-storage, and this will make today’s hardware obsolete.

    However, I do not expect hard drives to be replaced within, say, the time-frame during which a MacBook purchased today can legitimately be expected to survive. Now consider your amazing point An 8 year old iMac G3 can run OS X.4… and it runs it faster than the original OS that came with it.
    If there is no excuse for OS X not to continue getting faster, until a seismic shift such as the replacement of the HDD occurs, or until they all die of electron frazzlement, as I see it the higher-end computers being sold by apple now are as genuinely unobsoletable as a computer can ever be!

    Anyone agree/disagree? Am I just being short-sighted? RI?

    Benji had this to say on Aug 03, 2006 Posts: 927
  • No, I too have unfortunate misgivings upon Xwired’s position with his 8-yr old iMac G3 since I have the same circa 1998 bondi blue somewhere in my house being used as a internet surfer and an iTunes >> nano updater.

    Yes, it does run Tiger admirably but I will not be the first one to claim that it is running it faster than the original OS that it came with - OS8 or 9? I can’t even remember what it came with. Doesn’t matter. It isn’t faster - it just works OKish.

    And yes, if it were, Ben, then there would be no reason to dump last years top-of-line model since it would be just as fast as this year’s crown prince at running Leopard.

    And you’re absolutely right about the HDD’s “bottleneck”, Ben. Have you noticed that the access latencies haven’t really improved much since the time of the i486 and the ‘040? It is still stuck in the <sigh> 11-19ms? That’s milliseconds or thousandths of a second my friends! Contrast that to multi-GHz CPUs that would translate to 1 nanosecond or less (that’s billionths of a second to be clear) every clock cycle.

    To say it better, HDD access latencies are 10,000 times slower than the slowest clock cycle today. No wonder I wait for my HD to load my main memory and cache most of the time.

    So, what is the future solution to the HDD’s latency limitations? No, not faster spin HDD’s since they already tops 10,000 rpm (hmmmm…I wonder where they got that number?) The solution has to be semiconductor-based and that means flash memory.

    Future directions for flash will be multi-layer, of course, but even then they will have lots of catching up to do to have even a tenth the capacity of magnetic medium that is HDD.

    But fast flash memory can be used as a staging area for data about to be loaded to main memory. This would act exactly like the CPU cache and its prediction logic would have to know what sector/track of the HDD is about to be accessed or accessed most often. This way, direct access to the HDD slow mechanisms are limited. This method is the practical solution and viable to implement even with today’s technologies (Samsung already have 64Gb NAND flash protos in their labs - I have seen them myself).

    Robomac had this to say on Aug 04, 2006 Posts: 846
  • But isn’t flash only really incrementally faster than an HDD?
    flash memory can be used as a staging area for data about to be loaded to main memory.
    Isn’t this what main memory is for?

    It’s quite a thought to think that to achieve processor/hypertransport level bandwidth, a hard drive would have to spin at around 100 million rpm!

    Benji had this to say on Aug 04, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Sorry actually that’s bullshit: we’re talking about latency, not bandwidth, which isn’t actually so much linearly dependent on rpms as on the head movements & search times blah blah

    Benji had this to say on Aug 04, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Generation 1 flashes did have slow throughput. I believe somewhere around a few tens of megabits per sec. That would be like using your wifi-G to transfer files between your PCs.

    Generation 2 flashes (black plastics vice blue) are much more responsive and their throughput (equates to bandwidth) are now north of 50 megabits per sec.

    That is still slow compared to what an HDD can achieve. But I am sure flash designers and physicists are hard at work to make flash memory on par with the current memory technologies.

    You do bring up a good point, Ben. Why not dedicate a bank (slot) of main memory for this buffering/caching to/from the HDD? That is excellent idea and a workable one at that. That solves the bandwidth on both sides of the buffer exactly.

    Anyway, can Apple somehow place this kind of technology in future Macs? Surely. But I doubt it will come from their engineers. It would be from the likes of Maxtor or WD to shore up discontent from their latency crisis.

    Robomac had this to say on Aug 04, 2006 Posts: 846
  • Let me explain my iMac G3 specs… This machine has been upgraded to 1gb of ram and a 20gb 7200rpm 8mb cache drive… So it insn’t in “Original” form but those upgrades cost about $100 and made a HUGE improvement in the operation on X.4

    As for HD’s… Sata 300’s will most likely be the norm for a while. But I beleive Flash memory or something better will be made available shortly. When this comes out we’ll see PCI Express cards designed to accept these (higher bandwidth through the MB Bus) and I can 100% Garuntee you’ll see it on a Mac first followed 2 years later by PC manufactures as standard equipment, but optional a couple of months later.

    To all those heading to WWDC, I am jealous. Have fun, live it up, take lots of pics and extra SD cards…

    Without imagination and desire we’d all still be communicating on cave walls. And in today’s sense we need imagination and creativity to flurish in order to go farther. Who better than Apple computer at this time to do that. They have control over hardware and OS on the same machine (only company in the world) and thus can create rather than integrate.

    xwiredtva had this to say on Aug 04, 2006 Posts: 172
  • They have control over hardware and OS on the same machine (only company in the world) and thus can create rather than integrate. -xwired

    The only sole remnant of the “hodge podge” computing era and flourishing. That is ironic, isn’t it?

    I have read an article (I think it was eWeek’s or BusinessWeek) that the IT world is beginning to tire from “loose” controls of current desktop metaphor championed by or beloved MS. The IT world is dreaming to the day that these menacing malwares will be eradicated and finally justify IT’s primary reasons for existence - to increase corporate productivity and cushion the bottom-line after all.

    When this happens in the next OS generation, that depends entirely on what Vista has to offer the IT world [or not offer]. Leopard may have indirect causal effect as long as Apple promotes and market Leopard and Leopard Server’s cost advantages over Vista in the next 18 months.

    Robomac had this to say on Aug 04, 2006 Posts: 846
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