Apple’s September 9 Event Won’t be What we Expect

| Particle Debris

Apple's September 9 event won't be about techy things that bloggers want. It won't even be about what the best minds of the Mac Web think Apple needs to deliver. Rather, it'll be about delivering a remarkable, convincing vision that captures our imagination and enthusiasm for a better future.

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I have come to learn that Apple's agenda for a big event — and the September 9 one is BIG — usually turns out to be different than observers expect.

The first, easy mistake to make is to extrapolate from what we have now to a desired technical increment. That is, if Apple is shipping product 3.0 now, then the event will introduce Product 4.0. Make a list of what was missing in 3.0 and proceed. (Yawn.)

That can work in routine events, but this event will probably be different. Except for the iPhone, then I'll elaborate.

We have a fairly good feel, from the many supply chain leaks, about the iPhone 6 features. It'll come in two sizes and will have a sapphire display. Regarding the name, the number 6 is one more than 5(s), but then we don't even know that it will be branded that way. Bumping the number is just a surmise, just as when we expected the iPad 4 to become the iPad 5. Instead, we got iPad Air.

Aside the from the iPhone, however, I think it's dangerous to put too much trust in the incremental approach when there's so much at stake. Apple's has been brewing some new visions for some time now. It's time to make a splash.

I also think it can be dangerous to draw conclusions from the politics of what's omitted. That is to say, every observer has an idea about their pet product they want to see Apple amp up. If that product isn't showcased, all kinds of dreadful conclusions are presented. (Yawn.)

For example, TMO's managing editor, Jeff Gamet, doesn't think there will be an iPad announcement. I think there will be a new iPad of some kind announced, and, for fun, we have made a bet on that. (A glass of Scotch.)

I get the feeling that this event will be so important and will so completely punctuate Apple's vision for the future (CarPlay, home automation, personal health, retail payments) that we'll be blown away by the scope of the vision that has come together. We'll also see how the foundation Apple has laid with its current and new products and OSes feeds into these visions. After all, I expect this to be primarily a product event.

When the lights go down and the band starts to play, I think we'll see some amazing integration and amazing initiatives that logically draw from Apple's steady development and integration of its products.

And then whether or not a particular product is upgraded in just the way we wanted will look myopic and foolish.

Next: the tech news debris for the week of Aug 25. iPhone 6 mania.

Comments

Harvey Lubin

John, I do agree with you that something more (much more) than the new iPhones are coming on September 9th. What that is would be anybody’s guess.

This isn’t what I think the new product will be. It is more of a “what if”, considering what is possible now that Apple has its own very powerful 64-bit processors.

There have been rumors of two other products besides the iWatch. One would be a large 12” iPad, the other would be a 12” much slimmer and lighter MacBook Air.

What if it is both, in one product.

Apple made one transition from Motorola 68000 processors to PowerPC, and then a second transition from PowerPC to Intel processors. Apple made the second transition almost painless, by having OS X run PPC apps in emulation, while developers made their apps “Universal”.

What if Apple has developed a version of Yosemite that runs on ARM processors. The A7 is a 64-bit processor that is starting to approach mobile Intel processor power, but much more energy efficiently. The A8 is likely to be twice the processing power of the A7, and since the chips are much less expensive to produce than Intel chips, a MacBook with 2 (or more) A8 processors would still cost less to produce, have a less expensive retail price, and run longer, than a MacBook with an Intel mobile processor.

If Apple ever did this, they might have a similar transition period with developers creating “Universal” desktop apps that run on both Intel and ARM processors. But any MacBook that does have ARM processors would be able to run both OS X desktop apps and also iOS apps simultaneously.

Although this type of ARM MacBook might not ever happen, it is certainly possible to do. There currently are ARM Chromebook notebooks that run on less powerful ARM processors than the A7 or A8.

And there are many reasons why an ARM MacBook would also be a good thing for Apple to produce. These include:

• Current MacBooks run up to 12 hours on a charge. ARM powered MacBooks could probably do 24 hours on a similar sized battery.
• ARM processors are much cheaper to manufacture than Intel processors, so this would greatly reduce the cost and selling price.
• Apple designs the AX chips to be optimized for Apple’s operating systems, so they perform better than off-the-shelf ARM processors used by other companies.
• Since Apple makes its own ARM processors (using contracted fabricators), Apple would no longer need to rely on Intel for when/if their next mobile processors come out, and what Intel charges for them.
• Apple’s ARM processors run much cooler than Intel mobile chips, so (like the iPad) an ARM MacBook would not need fans like the current MacBooks, making them thinner and silent.

If there ever was such a beast, it could be as thin and light as an iPad, with an additional thin aluminum keyboard/trackpad (not the floppy cover that Microsoft has made) that easily attaches. It might also have an optional desktop dock to which your monitor and external devices will connect.

An ARM MacBook is what Microsoft’s Surface should have been, but due to the restrictions of reality and Microsoft’s poor decision-making, could never actually be.

• The Surface can’t run desktop Windows apps and WP mobile apps, because they run on two different processor architectures.
• The Surface runs a Windows desktop operating system with multi-touch glued onto it, but almost all of Windows desktop apps do not use multi-touch at all! They rely on the typical keyboard and mouse/trackpad to operate.
• The Surface uses an Intel processor, so it runs hot, requires built-in fans, is thicker and heavier, has a short battery life, and is much more expensive than an ARM MacBook would be.

Again, if I was placing bets, I’d bet that an ARM MacBook ISN’T what Apple will introduce on September 9th… Bit it would be very cool if Apple did produce something like this in the future.

MacFrogger

Harvey - that’s an amazing analysis!  And some pretty original thinking all rolled into one delicious comment.  Thank you - I hope you comment more often in these parts…

MacFrogger

Oh yeah - and hey John: Thanks for the Gruber link.  That was an excellent (and original) piece of writing/analysis as well.  That and Harvey’s comment above are some of the reasons I hang out at this joint.

Have a great weekend everyone!

ibuck

Curiosity is high for this event and what will be revealed. Perhaps Yosemite will run on Apple’s ARM processors: that could be the reason it’s been nearly 2 years since the Mac Mini was revved. And I’m hoping for a Kindle killer with a 6” screen that works remarkably like an iPod Touch and weighs under 12 ounces.

aardman

I agree, this time around is not just another device introduction.  The metaphor I keep thinking of is we’ve been living in this house that Apple buily and all along, without our knowledge, they have been building an annex that will double the square footage.  September 9, Tim Cook will knock down one of the house’s original exterior walls and take us on a tour of the completed elaborate structure that they had been building behind it these past few years.

With iWatch, Healthkit, Homekit, Touch ID, iCloud and all the other pieces Apple has been developing, what I expect to be revealed is a platform and ecosystem that will allow us to monitor and manage pretty much every facet of our lives (financial, medical, recreational, etc.) from any place (with an internet connection, of course) and at any time, through an iPhone, iPad or Mac, with the utmost security and privacy. 

John Martellaro

Mr. Lubin. You have some intriguing thoughts. What always interests me is the virtual machine side of things. Apple would gain the ability to run iOS apps on a Mac, but lose the ability to run every major OS, Windows and Linux (which are compiled for Intel) as a guest virtual machine. That’s another consideration.

Bryan Kennedy

Apple WILL move to their own processors because it’s in Apple’s DNA to make their own hardware. However, I don’t see this happening until a WWDC where developers will need to change their code.

I think a MacBook Air or low cost iMac would be first to get an ARM processor.

ctopher

John,

Virtualization is important to folks like you and I, but what about 90% of Apple’s Macintosh customers? It would not be the first time they killed off a very productive idea.

John Martellaro

ctopher:  It’s not just me.  Virtual Machine apps like Parallels Desktop, VMware Fusion and even Virtual Box have been instrumental in luring millions of Windows customers over to Macs. Apple would, I surmise, have to think long and hard about giving up this feature for potential Switchers.

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