Are You Ready for Apple’s Next Hardware Platform? The iPhone

| Analysis

There has been plenty of agitation for Apple to pull the next generation hardware technology out of a magician's hat. That thinking jumps the gun because Apple already has the ultimate hardware platforms in place to support its "Kit" initiatives. One of them is called the iPhone.

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The Apple II started the home computer revolution (along with the Radio Shack's TRS-80 and the Commodore P.E.T.) That basic technology, the PC, lasted from 1978 to 2010 when the iPad launched the Post-PC era.

No one can reliably predict when it's time for an old technology to fade away, and the next generation replacement can seldom be forcefully fit into the marketplace successfully. For example, the Samsung Gear was a product built on a foundation of envy and panic, not solving a fundamental human problem. Eventually, the developments of technology create the foundation for a new way of doing things. But there must be an expert shepherding to market.

For example, Microsoft had a head start on tablets years ago, but the display hardware, Windows and styluses weren't the droid the public was looking for. It took a combination of hardware development plus Apple's expertise in user interfaces to make the iPad wildly successful.

Today, the observation that each successive generation of technology comes faster and faster is just that. It's an observation. What it isn't, however, is a rule that can be depended upon to insist that the current generation of hardware is obsolete.

And so what we really have is the modern smartphone, like the iPhone, whose capabilities continues to grow and grow and support creative ideas. I can just imagine Apple engineers pondering home automation concept and thinking, "Hey, we already have the perfect platform, and it's one that our customers always have in their pockets!"

It's already in your pocket!

Defining a Model for Apple's Ecosystem

When we think about Apple, we often think about hardware or services in isolation. The global model of Apple's ecosystem is seldom formally modeled. However, TMO's Adam Christianson has done just that. The basic idea there is that Apple's hardware and services rebrands data into a coherent whole. That is, we access information on Apple products, which are our "front end" and we don't really care where it all resides so long as we can access it, manipulate and share it in the way we need to.

What's more, the integration of services and data amongst our various platforms of choice with increasing "continuity" means that all our our tools work seamlessly in a fashion we want to complete our tasks. So long as the hardware can do this, it will not become obsolete. The irrational outcry for a new device to supersede the current hardware fails to take into account the whole picture of Apple's evolving ecosystem.

The MVC View

Computer programming has the concept of Model, View and Controller. It's a way to think about implementing a User Interface (UI), and it normally applies to our interaction with an app or OS functions.

What if the concept were to be scaled up so that it encompasses the entire hardware, software, data and services from Apple? That's how we are beginning to understand how Apple is thinking and how its platforms are leveraged by users.

Model. The data Model comes from web services like search, distant or local documents, location, music, photos, apps that provide data on health and fitness, state of the home, financial data and purchases, contact information, reminders, calendars, entertainment feeds, and so on.

View. This is the interface for human beings. How does one get at the information? For example, the Mac, iPad and iPhone construct our Views via the User Interface. Plus, the better Apple's devices work in concert to share Views, the more powerful the hardware family becomes without having to function exactly the same way.

Controller. Finally, the Controller is the framework that ties it all together into a coherent, useful whole. These include the various Kits that Apple continues to develop. There are formal integration Kits like HomeKit, CloudKit, HealthKit CarPlay and Family Sharing. There are Integrators like Notifications Center, Spotlight/search, and Handoff. Finally, then we have UI extensions that present and/or format like the Finder and Siri.

The Whole Shebang

Seen in this light, Apple's current hardware nicely fleshes out the desired platforms for this kind of MVC model. When new data appears, it fits into this infrastructure, usually without the need for new hardware. An obvious exception is iWatch, which we expect to feed medical data into Controllers and Views.

As mentioned above, some have been thinking that a mythical, next generation hardware gadget that supersedes the iPad would be required for Apple to maintain its dominance in some kind of fanciful marketshare driven scenario. In contrast, the model above suggests that, given the 800 million iOS devices and 80 million Macs in place, the MVC model is all that's needed to serve the customers.

Thinking ahead, it's my own notion that it is presentation and display hardware technology that will be evolving. For example, 4K displays and larger iPhones (and perhaps iPads) mean that the above model can be implemented more effectively. But I digress.

The model described above is how Adam and I are starting to see Apple in the summer of 2014. When it's time for new hardware from Apple, it will be obvious and compelling.

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Magician's hat via Shutterstock.

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Comments

geoduck

When I got my new MacBook Pro in 2012 I did so with the assumption that it may very well be my last Mac. Macs last so long that by the time it’s worn out (in 2017 to 2020) I likely will have moved all of my computing to an iPad or some such device. Keyboard-Mouse-Pointer is going the way of the radial aircraft engine. Still good technology but the paradigm is moving on and leaving it behind.

aardman

I was late to the smartphone party.  just got my first smartphone, a 5S last December.  I got a cellular iPad3 two years ago.  And my first Mac 12 years ago.  Having owned and used an iPhone for all of six months, and already unable to live without one, I am convinced that the smartphone has changed our lives at least as much as the PC, automobile or air-conditioning has.  And after all is said and done, with future developments, perhaps even more.

All those people clamoring for more bread and circuses from Apple to keep them entertained don’t realize that a seminal invention like the smart phone doesn’t come every 3 years.  The world, lead by Apple, (as demonstrated in all the path defining “kits” and development tools they just introduced) has only begun to reorganize and reconfigure itself around the smartphone.  It’s like the automobile had just been invented and the autobahns, shopping malls, suburbia, hotels, campsites, amusement parks, nature preserves, and other such automobile age structures and institutions have yet to be built.  [Yes nature preserves.  Nobody would want it if there’s no easy way to get to it.]

Shameer Mulji 1

So we’ve gone from the Mac being the hub of your digital life to the iPhone being the hub of your digital life.  Sounds good to me.

Lancashire-Witch

I think if there’s a new “hub”, SM1, it’s iCloud. And if Apple can get it right this time then this time it will be here to stay. I really hope so.

Another MobileMe would be a disaster. I’ve moved from iWeb to iPhoto Journals (or is it “Projects” or “Web Journals” ?) . If they pull the rug from under me again I will minimise my use of Apple’s cloud services.  They continue to make me feel uneasy - iTunes Match should be better by now. If Shazam can recognise my music ....

My G5 is still going; though it’s now relegated to being the household media server. I really love my 4S. I don’t want a physically bigger smartphone but I think iOS8 will be the end of the line for it. Oh dear. SWMBO’s 4th Gen. iPod Touch has already reached the end of the line and still works fine on iOS6. I wonder which new features of Yosemite won’t be available on my 2009 iMac.

So unfortunately John, we are a little hardware orientated because each successive, evolutionary, integrated systems step forward, brings the day of hardware obsolescence closer.

aardman

Wow, AAPL is still trending upwards.  Could it be Wall Street finally understands what Apple is trying to do and has dropped their incessant clamor of ‘More New Devices Now!’?

In a matter of two hours, Apple explained to investors, customers, and business partners that:

1.  We have not even begun to develop the full potential of an integrated but still separate iOS/OSX joint platform.  Our current devices still have a lot of innovation ahead of them and we are not going to leave that potential untapped.

2.  There is no point in introducing new device categories without working on item 1 above.  Otherwise, any new devices will just add clutter and chaos to the platform and the user experience and will just be one more widget that people will buy then toss in their drawers.

3.  Really, no one else can do what we’re doing.  Nobody has all the skills, all the know-how, all the brand reputation, all the other pieces that we have.

Are they days of an undervalued AAPL finally over?

 

aardman

And, I forgot.  I think the belief that Apple is a company that makes its living on periodic blockbusters may have undergone serious revision if not total debunking.

Steve Nagel

Apple’s first mission statement ... computers for the rest of us ... has held up for thirty years. Altho’ Apple dropped the word computers from its name years ago, its mainstay products are still computers ... traditional computers, with storage, processors, and screens.

The next wave in consumer tech is nearables (sensors that gather information around us) connected with farables (servers that give information context and depth), connected through hubbles that control the flow and keep info secure. Much as you suggest here, the iPhone is the hubble of choice.

The new Apple missions statement, then, is “the best in tech for the rest of us ... us including China.” Sounds like China is a big part of Apple-think these days.

Not cheap tech. Great tech. The best ... for the rest. The purveyors of cheap tech did not and never would create the iPhone, the Mac, or the iPad. Cheap is a good thing too. But cheap doesn’t get you great, whereas as great engenders cheap.

Here’s what’s in my craw: As we watch the world shift toward inequality and as the wealthy run the show more and more, great, simple, useful, and affordable tech is kinda subversive, yes? The iPhone proves that great does good all around.

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