The Once and Future Macintosh

| Hidden Dimensions

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” — Albert Einstein

 

It’s really clear now: the Macintosh is going to evolve quickly. The term “Mac” has been eradicated from the Mac OS X lexicon, the mouse is on the way out, and 75 percent of Macs sold are notebooks. Where does the beloved Mac evolve from here?

We know a lot more about the future of the Mac today than we did before the WWDC 2011 keynote. We were reminded that Mac sales are climbing at a significant rate compared to PCs. We were reminded that 75 percent of Apple’s Mac sales are notebooks. We were shown how Lion is the first modern OS that can dispense with scroll bars and the mouse.

Classic iMacThe desktop Mac & mouse - moving from mainstream to backwater

Going to Extremes - Not

The first thing to consider is that Lion introduces a lot of iOS ideas and makes the Mac easier to use. But it doesn’t change the way we must interact with the Mac, only the preferred method for the vast majority of users. Those who want to use Lion, but continue to live on the command line and the UNIX shells can still do so. Those who need the fine motor control of a 1200 dpi mouse for intricate design and art will still be able to use a Magic mouse. Those users who want access to the file system will still have it, both with Lion and the fabulous Path Finder from Cocoatech. So it’s not a question of absolutes; it’s a question of what Apple will showcase, develop and refine. That’s important to reflect on.

Lion on MacBook

OS X Lion

The movement to the cloud, while not for everyone will dictate where Apple puts its energies. Not many people enjoy being home IT managers, wrestling with updates, managing backups, and fighting off malware. So it’s reasonable to surmise that Apple’s iCloud initiative is designed to eliminate that fuss for most users. That would suggest that the days of the desktop Mac, for the majority of users, will come to a close. Big displays will still be with us, driven by notebooks and Thunderbolt, but Apple is definitely moving to an era where the desktop PC or Mac is no longer a management noose around the average user’s neck.

Does this mean that developers, advanced users, writers, scientists and technologists won’t be able to continue working as they have been in Lion? Of course not. There will still be local storage. Dropbox will continue to develop and be useful. Many organizations will decline to use Apple’s iCloud. The desktop Mac will continue to be a UNIX-based workhorse for many. The difference is that while Apple lived and died by the desktop UNIX workstation ten years ago, in the future, most Apple customers will be focused on a different kind of computer experience.

The mouse, now used by almost every Mac user at some time or another will be rarely used. For most users, life will become simpler. Many Apple customers may find that an iPhone and an iPad is all they need. And Apple’s desktop displays, driven by MacBooks, will be driven by the touch pad. Even the remaining few desktops that Apple sells will come, optionally at first, but then by default, with the Magic Trackpad instead of a mouse. (But you’ll still be able to buy mice.)

By now, you see where I’m going. The desktop Mac will evolve into a desktop display and computing system, supported by the iCloud, for most of Apple’s customers. But those with technical savvy, the “pickup truck drivers” in the parlance of Mr. Jobs will still be around. Local storage, if you want it, will remain. You’ll visit an architect friend’s house and see things seldom seen by average users. You’ll see scientists working with X11 and NFS mounted drives at the local university. And so on. The mainstream simply becomes the exception.

Desktops are no longer where the money is, that’s not the modern trend in mobility, and that’s not where Apple will focus its efforts for the next five years.

The Evolution of the Mac

Now that Apple has decided to put powerful CPUs in the iMac line, I expect the Mac Pro to be the first to be discontinued, maybe later this year. It will go the way of the Xserve. There’s just no Big Money in 41 pound cheese graters.

Mac lineup

 

Anyone see an odd man out?

Next, in a few years, I expect that Apple will move to always have the strongest CPUs in the Mac mini (sans optical drive, SSD driven) so that the company can eventually eliminate the iMac. They’re very cool, but a bit hard to handle and work with when repairs are needed. On the other hand, stand alone displays will get even bigger and thiner, but for those who just have to have a desktop computer with lots of CPU power and local storage, the Mac mini will be the preferred (only) solution. It might not even be called a Macintosh anymore to emphasize that true Macs are exclusively mobile.

I suspect that in five years, many Apple customers will have a fairly large, very high quality display driven by a Mac mini or a MacBook. Others may find that an iPad and iPhone are all they need. While some users will steadfastly keep their data local, most Apple customers will live on MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches — and their successors — in the cloud. OS X probably won’t go away until Apple decides whether iOS can (or should) carry the complete load for the most advanced users, developers and content creators. That’s too far out to predict.

The desktop Mac isn’t doomed. It’s merely doomed to become a very small part of the Apple universe in the near future. MacBook sales will continue to soar and with them, OS X. Eventually, however, the classic Macintosh and OS X will fade away as iOS and the cloud evolve in unexpected ways and our computing paradigm changes. That much we know that we cannot know.

Along the way, if the classic PC and Microsoft become relics of the past, Mr. Jobs won’t mind.

Comments

John Martellaro

Living in our own technology world, with our own standards and values for privacy and security—yet being immersed in the world where Apple is taking the vast majority of its customers creates oodles of cognitive dissonance.

We learn to live with it.

Ted Landau

RE: “I expect the Mac Pro to be the first to be discontinued.”

Wow. It will be interesting to see what happens if this comment is picked up. I wrote something to this effect a few years ago. Reader reaction was almost 100% negative.

Perhaps times have changed. If not, be prepared for a barrage. smile

geoduck

Last year we sold our last big Mac, a PowerMac G4. We just found that we never turned it on any more. The last thing we used it for was our MoneyDance accounting package. Once that went to my wife’s MacBook we just didn’t need it any more. (Interestingly I still got $400 for the old beast.)
This year we are getting an iPad. I suspect, but haven’t told my wife, that she will end up using it for nearly all of her computing. She plays games, does Skype, sends e-mail, and surfs the web. I can see her almost never turning on her MacBook, except for MoneyDance. If that goes to the iPad…

Actually Baldric, I have a cunning plan.
In a year or so I’ll suggest that we retire HER macBook, move MoneyDance over to MY MacBook, and then get a new MacBook Pro and display for ME.

We’ll see how that plays out. Probably about as well as MOST of Blackadders cunning plans worked.

VaughnSC

Actually Baldric, I have a cunning plan?

<chuckles> +1

FlipFriddle

I don’t think the MacPro is going to go away; I think it will become more “Pro.” The iMac has become quite a good machine for web and graphic designers, but there is plenty of work to do that still needs multiple, large, monitors, lots of RAM, and lots of storage, so the Pro is still relevant in my mind.

The Cloud can’t be the repository for everything without a massive infrastructure upgrade to the entire internet all the way down to the pipes going into your house.

To be fair, I never thought I’d be running the Creative Suite on an iMac, but I am and it runs great, but it’s too early to write the Macs epitaph.

Hardly a barrage; merely a ranging shot. smile

Will

So all traditional computing comes to a halt. So why is Apple stock in a fall. Is it that the market just doesn’t get it?

Lee Dronick

This year we are getting an iPad. I suspect, but haven?t told my wife, that she will end up using it for nearly all of her computing.

My wife has been commandeering my iPad more and more.

“Do I have to log you out of the Facebook app in order for me to login?”

‘Yes, use Safari anyway, the Facebook app sucks on the iPad (no wonder they are out in the cold).’

I wonder how soon, if ever, we will see accounts on iOS.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

So all traditional computing comes to a halt. So why is Apple stock in a fall. Is it that the market just doesn?t get it?

On one hand, people who claim to “get it” think that iCloud will change computing forever. On the other hand, people who don’t get it have seen what Apple does when it really believes it has a game changer (see iPad unveil) and compare that to yesterday and just think Apple is phoning it in with iCloud.

prl53

I’m not going to yell at anyone but one size doesn’t fit everyone. Apple has a couple sizes and configurations of laptops, an iPad and an iPhone. For many people, having a larger display is a requirement. Adding an external monitor to a laptop is fine but it’s a lot more money. I can’t see the iMac going away any time soon especially when you consider it’s benefit in schools and businesses where they don’t want them walking away. mini’s might go before Pros, especially since mini’s have no easy way to upgrade and aren’t that powerful to begin with. Pros are there for those creative users who really drive their systems and need a heavy amount of processing.

iCloud will work for the limited applications it is being previewed with. It won’t support, nor does the Internet, the handling of multi-GB (like really multi-GB) video and animation files. These have to be handled on a local network, usually to a server (which Apple doesn’t supply anymore), but could be between properly configured clusters of Mac Pros. I like the free addition of Xsan to Lion but I’m wondering what will be required for it to work with other systems. Will Thunderbolt be the preferred protocol/interface for Xsan?

I’d really like to see Apple come back with an Apple-approved 3rd-party server (real one) that Lion Server can run on. I guess I should be concerned about virtualization but I’m not. I don’t care about running Windows or other unix OSes (I do for work but only for testing) and would want an OSX server that works best for OSX not best for the others. Clusters are different than virtualized OSes and Lion can run on these for almost no money (compare the cost of setting up 10 Lion Servers with unlimited clients to 10 Windows servers—free vs. mortgage your home).

As far as where the money is, I hope Apple retains the reason they started in the first place, to bring a computer to the masses that just works. I don’t remember either Steve saying they wanted to make a gazillion dollars while providing one or two computers.

prl53

@Will: So all traditional computing comes to a halt. So why is Apple stock in a fall. Is it that the market just doesn?t get it?

The current stock market has nothing to do with the value of a product, it has all to do with how rich the market manipulators can get—a true disservice to the entire world. The market gets it just fine. It’s full of hedgers, manipulators, shorts and longs, but very few who really want to invest in the future of any company. This is what my father in law did when he was a broker (1950-2008). He invested for the long term and didn’t play around for the quick buck (up or down). Those types of brokers can’t exist anymore because they have to trade to make any money and trade charges are extremely low now.

mouring

I don’t see the desktops being minimized.  I see Apple attempting to break down the walls that exists separating our phones, tablets, and desktops. 

Imagine this case:

A digital artist is sitting in the living room and drafting out her new project.  She sets the iPad down goes to her office and be able to pull up the same file (note no silly importing and waiting) and start to do more detailed work using a wacom tablet.

She gets a call from another friend for lunch.  She grabs her iPhone and leaves.  Over lunch she shows her new partial piece and there is a conversation.  She can note down suggested or even bring up the sketch software again and make visual notes.

Afterwards she goes home and sits down at her desk and pulls up the notes and additional drawings and continues to work.

All without having to worry about where the file is.  Does she have the latest version synced on her iPhone, iPad, or on her Mac.

It is this level of background convergence I see Apple going after.  This is something currently no one really has.  Adobe has started down this path with the iPad and the “sync to computer, sync to ipad” thing, but that requires active effort.  Unlike Apple’s method of it “just being there.”

But that is just my take at this moment.

geoduck

I hope Apple retains the reason they started in the first place, to bring a computer to the masses that just works

I agree completely, in fact I’m in the same boat when it comes to Virtual Machines. I do some messing around with video and even 5-10 minute ones strain my MacBook severely. I can’t imagine what would be needed for a couple hour HD movie. I’d be sad to see the Mac going away.

OTOH “a computer to the masses that just works” kinda describes the iPad. One thing nobody has brought up is the (in my mind very real) possibility of an iPad Pro with real video out, lots more horsepower both for the processor and video card, and a docking station. That would take a chunk out of the market for low end MacBooks and MacMinis.

JonGl

Actually Baldric, I have a cunning plan.

We?ll see how that plays out. Probably about as well as MOST of Blackadders cunning plans worked.

Hate to be pedantic, but wasn’t it always Baldric who said “I have a cunning plan…” I always hear his whiny voice when I say that… wink

-Jon

Lancashire-Witch

Mac Minis were introduced as “entry level” (horrible term) machines.
A way for new Apple customers to get the Apple experience without having to sell the farm. Bring your own keyboard, display etc…

Maybe those days are gone. The mini may well become the new desktop. There’s no reason why it should be any less powerful than an IMac.

Will

it has all to do with how rich the market manipulators can get?a true disservice to the entire world.[/quote

Clear and covers a lot of points, prl63. Suspect you’ve hit the nail on the head. Thanks.

Nemo

“Are you sure you want to entrust your digital assets to the cloud?” Quoting from the International Business Times: Will iCloud be the next target of hackers?  I am certain that I don’t want my data in the cloud, and my reasons are as they have been:  I want privacy from third parties viewing my even my data, much less my private and confidential data; I want control of my data; I want to be independent of anyone’s cloud, and I shall not risk a security breach on anyone’s cloud.  None of those reasons change or lose their force simply because the cloud vendor’s name is Apple.  And there is absolutely no reason why I or anyone should sacrifice any of my concerns, supra, when the local storage is so cheap and available, and when Snow Leopard already has the facilities to permit any of my iOS and/or OS X devices to connect to my home server over the Internet, and if I need to augment the capabilities of my home server, Snow Leopard Server is now available for a mere $49.00. 

I am fully with Richard Stallman in his view that the cloud is too great a sacrifice of independence, privacy, and freedom that shall not end well for most user, once they become dependent on the cloud.

So for the vast majority, if not all, of my data, I shall decline Apple’s generous offer of its cloud and will stay local with my pickup-truck Macs, and that goes for my iTunes collection too.

geoduck

So for the vast majority, if not all, of my data, I shall decline Apple?s generous offer of its cloud and will stay local with my pickup-truck Macs, and that goes for my iTunes collection too.

Agreed. I won’t submit to the vageries of remote connections not serve up my data for who knows who’s data mining enterprise. I wonder if there is an inverse relation between the amount someone knows about computers and data security and their likelihood of using and trusting any cloud service?

but wasn?t it always Baldric who said ?I have a cunning plan??

I believe Blackadder said it occasionally, and his plans had a slight possibility of working though they never did.
Baldric said it the most and his plans had almost no chance of working
I said it today and my plan has even less chance of working than Baldric’s.
LOL

John Martellaro

Nemo:  I know that a lot of people feel the way you do.  In a similar vein, 600 million people use Facebook and it’s probably not in the best interest of 599 million of those users.

The Internet creates a certain momentum that is hard to resist, and the mass psychology, while not a mystery, is certainly disconcerting.

See my kickoff comment above.

ppartekim

In my house, I sold my Dual G5 when the Intel Mac mini was just as fast for my needs. My wife swapped her 17” iMac G5 for a Dual Core White MacBook and hasn’t looks back. Now our house has: 1 MacBook (to be upgrade in 6 mos), 2 Mac Minis (one house-server, one for me), 2 iPhone4, and 2 iPad1. Eventually, my mac mini might just vanish in favor of a iPad3 remoting into the House-server mini.

So yeah, desktops are being demoted in our house.

Nemo

And there is another great impediment to cloud here in the U.S., one that Mr. Martellaro has reported on and that I assume he follows:  In the U.S., the big ISPs, especially the integrated ISPs that offer Internet as well as content/cable service, are gathering to impose data caps on the U.S. Internet and transform it into today’s version of cable television with the same rapacious rates for service.  The prices that those big ISPs intend to charge for broadband Internet will kill the cloud in the U.S.

If this were Holland or even the U.K., the subscription rates for broadband service would not be a block to the cloud.  In those countries 20 MB/sec can go for just $10.00 per month.  But here in the U.S., the big ISPs’ future data caps and the rates for broadband will throttle the cloud in the U.S.

Lee Dronick

And there is another great impediment to cloud here in the U.S., one that Mr. Martellaro has reported on and that I assume he follows:? In the U.S., the big ISPs, especially the integrated ISPs that offer Internet as well as content/cable service, are gathering to impose data caps on the U.S. Internet and transform it into today?s version of cable television with the same rapacious rates for service.

Unless Apple cuts some sort of deal with the big providers to exempt traffic to and from iCloud. So far we use about 12-14% of our monthly DSL bandwidth, but that could change. I check our usage stats every week or so.

Nemo

John:  And I forgot to mention the reliability problems.  The Internet isn’t one thing.  It is a collection of networks, routers, servers, etc. with many point of failures, most of which are beyond Apple’s control.  Once people have become utterly dependent on the cloud and particularly the iCloud, they are going to tear Apple a new one, when they can’t get to their vital iWorks files or even their media entertainment files.  And somewhere the Internet will fail, whether at point that is Apple’s responsibility or somewhere else, but Apple’s mostly unsophisticated iCloud customers will be baying for Apple’s blood no matter who is actually at fault for their inability to access the iCloud.

And then there is the inevitable massive security breach.  The iCloud at its birth will be a lucrative target matched by few others.  But if it is the success that many expect it to be, it will be the Mother Load of all targets.  And given that the iCloud will be available to all manner of people, many using jailbroken iOS devices, without restriction and will be subject to the most sophisticated hackers on every continent, it will be a miracle if Apple, even after exercising the greatest skill and care, does not suffer several major security breaches.  Once again, after such security breaches, Apple’s iCloud customers, the plaintiffs’ bar, and, yes, tech journalist will be baying for Apple’s blood.

John Martellaro

Nemo: You have valid concerns.  However, I would point out that Apple’s account system/iTunes/Apple ID has never been hacked, 200 million credit card numbers remain secure, and MobileMe hasn’t been hacked. So while Apple remains vigilant and secure, giving them reason to proceed, the dangers are sobering.

MonkeyT

They just introduced mirroring live video from an ipad to a TV wirelessly.  There were already ways to stream video from a Mac to an iPad.

Keep an eye out for a MacBook Air-like keyboard, with a large touchpad, an lcd about the size of an ipod touch or even a nano.  Battery option built-in.  It wirelessly streams video to any Apple device or adapter-bearing monitor. 

You walk into the living room, power up and choose to stream video to the HDTV. Work on some movie editing for a while or even playing games, until the kids come home.  Move to a back room, one with a charging iPad propped in a vertical charging station and wirelessly switch the stream of the OS X video signal to it.  Work on that novel for a while.  Next morning, pack the keyboard in your backpack to work and stream to two widescreen monitors on your desk.  Carry it into the conference room and stream to the LCD projector.

Any digital screen, TV or monitor in your house becomes your workspace.  Tap into any wireless network, thus the internet or cloud if you want. 

Definitely NOT a “Mac”.  But absolutely OS X.

Nemo

John:  Yes, we will learn to live with it.  But that doesn’t mean we won’t suffer.  And if we suffer too greatly and blame Apple for it, Apple’s precious reputation for delivering a great users’ experience could suffer great and perhaps even unsustainable damage.  And the legal havoc arising from the iCloud that awaits Apple’s General Counsel, Bruce Sewell, must invoke sympathy even from Satan.

I wouldn’t be surprised that my Brother Sewell is driven into bad health and early retirement by the iCloud.

Jamie

I have no doubt the Mac Pro is on the chopping block, and as powerful as new iMacs are, it might be sooner than we think. I believe you are spot-on: We will have device driven displays and touch-based (gesture-based might be better phrasing, I do think Kinect-like and functionality will become ubiquitous as well - that was evidenced somewhat in the Photobooth demo) interfaces, period, and I believe portables are going to morph more and more into something akin to iPads. I think the loop will become smaller, and moreover, I believe this is a good thing (and yes, I believe it will eventually all ‘just work’, we’ll take it for granted, in fact).

We have been removing the linearity from our computing technology progressively and steadily since the dawn of the GUI, we seem to forget that at times; and IMHO and experience, this does indeed liberate our productivity and, yes, our creativity. Very cool times ahead. smile

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nemo: You have valid concerns.? However, I would point out that Apple?s account system/iTunes/Apple ID has never been hacked, 200 million credit card numbers remain secure, and MobileMe hasn?t been hacked. So while Apple remains vigilant and secure, giving them reason to proceed, the dangers are sobering.

Well, there is this story that has been hiding behind WeinerGate for the better part of a week.

aardman

I do a lot of HD video editing and storage.  TINWIH* that I will be migrating all my computing to the cloud anytime soon, nor can I give up a large monitor (24” minimum) and work on a laptop screen.

Desktops will not disappear, Schools, universities and other institutions will still need them.  Laptops are just an invitation for theft.

What I would welcome is the option, just an option, to lockdown the Mac so that apps can only be installed through the App Store.  I’m not a techie and I don’t tinker so I’m perfectly fine playing strictly within the Mac App Store sandbox if that means that no amount of phishing, spear-phishing or whatever method of spreading malware will work on my machine.

*There Is No Way In Hell

Lee Dronick

TINWIH* that I will be migrating all my computing to the cloud anytime soon

If I remember Steve’s presentation correctly isn’t that our files will be stored in the iCloud, but that they will also be there, they will still be local. Considering the few GBs that Apple will be giving us for free you won’t be keeping too many of your video files in the iCloud. I think that this service will be for Mac users who storage requirements are more modest. I have 82 GB of files in my iTunes library, I don’t need all of them on the cloud.

WhatzUp

Checked out the WeinerGate site and all comments seem to be from trolling Apple haters which kind of discrete the site. Gees. The things some will stoop to.

MonkeyT

but that they will also be there, they will still be local.

And if your pipe to the cloud charges for data transfer?  This may empower users, but it could also line the pockets of the carriers if you’re not careful.

What I want to know is what if the data being “shared” among my devices exceeds the memory one of those devices has?

I don’t want my life on the cloud.  I want a window to it for the parts of my life I want to share.  Mostly for personal reasons, but also for security and economical reasons.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@WhatzUp: Here is 25 pages of “trolling Apple haters” in the Apple Support forums. Check the specific comment I link to for how they just blame the victim.

When Apple brags in keynotes about having my credit card on file, it just makes me cringe.

Lee Dronick

And if your pipe to the cloud charges for data transfer?? This may empower users, but it could also line the pockets of the carriers if you?re not careful.

What I want to know is what if the data being ?shared? among my devices exceeds the memory one of those devices has?

I don?t want my life on the cloud.? I want a window to it for the parts of my life I want to share.? Mostly for personal reasons, but also for security and economical reasons.

I check my bandwidth usage every week, so far it has been modest when compared to my monthly allowance, about 10% to 14%. However, iCloud is not yet in that mix though MobileMe is.

As with MobileMe, the use of iCloud probably won’t be mandatory. I could synch our iOS devices and Macs manually via a cable or the home WiFi network.

I too don’t want all of my life in the iCloud or anyone else’s cloud. I want my files local, but I do put up some things when I travel. I think that iCloud is limited to 4GB, I couldn’t store my iPhone on that, but it is certainly big enough to synch what I need synched.

etype

I find many Apple bloggers tend to consumerist utopianism. Bloggers always imagine a world where people have nothing better to do than watch movies, use emails and read their blogs.
The pro series is never going away, however transformed. The segment, however small is too important. You give grudging leeway to the reality of choice, which I think you will find will remain signifigant…but you imply Apple will exploit the trend against this to create a captive market. However this is why macusers are frankly scary, even to other mac users. It’s never enough that Apple is a growing and successful mobile enterprise. It has only 7% of the market for desktops…but with dominance in mobile you project they will strip us of all technological independence and collapse everyone into the hive…..you state this without a twitch or nod to the current sociopolitical reality. Therefore Apple will be in alignment with the emerging surveillance state. This type of thinking is frankly repulsive - the same hive mentality we were threatened with from MS, now we have Apple Bloggers cheering on. I hope better from Apple. Apple, at least under Steve Jobs, does not do the obvious. Your prognosis is not far sighted, just extemporizes on the obvious. Frankly your type worries me.

Paul Goodwin

I don’t know how many percent of the 25% of the Mac sales were Mac Pros, but the number has never been historically high. For the foreseeable future, it would seem that there’d still be a niche for the professional users and high end Apple desktops. Heck, with a $69 Bluetooth trackpad, you can take advantage of all the new OS multi gesture features. The reason they’d go away would be if there were no advantage in using the machine and in particular, lack of the innovative high end software that can run on them. If the SW development goes stagnant, the machine will fade away. Apple seems to have their focus right as they keep advancing the SW along with the HW.

Yes, the laptops will get more powerful, and able to do far more than today, but laptops will always have the disadvantage of heat dissipation limitations limiting performance, as well as battery capability. And as stated above, the iMac doesn’t lend itself to easy internal enhancements.

I can also see the Mac Mini and Apple TV becoming one appliance where the TV is the monitor, so I don’t see it going away either.

And for those that don’t think they’ll need to update their machine before it’s obsolete, the iMac is there.

Apple has scaled back their hardware lineup to a pretty stable set satisfying lots of needs. I don’t see them getting rid of any of the current desktops.

etype

Thinking about the sublogic of this article….I realize it’s link-bait.
The Bloggers are desperate, so they instinctively stoop to the same tactics of reader exploitation we expect from the hit-houres of PCworld and ‘Get the..’ Zednet.

xmattingly

RE: ?I expect the Mac Pro to be the first to be discontinued.? Wow. It will be interesting to see what happens if this comment is picked up.

There are surprisingly few responses to that comment, so I’ll bite. Mr. M certainly sees which way the needle on the compass has pointed, but his predictions are bold nonetheless.

Analogous to the original Steve Jobs quote, “Mobile devices may be metro, but farm hands will always need trucks to haul their crops.” I really don’t think any of us, even Apple, can really predict when local machines and processing will go away. I think it is certainly valid to predict that a miniaturized machine - be it a Mini or a laptop can handle the load for most users. In the next year or two, we’re going to see how much Thunderbolt will put a dent in PCI. Yes, Apple is selling fewer desktops (particularly Pro towers) than ever, but what does everyone who puts it on death watch gloss over? Expandability and flexibility. Which is still very valuable to content creators. It’s still cheaper and easier to stick internal drives into a machine than external. Cost of RAM on OWC’s site for an iMac ($2900 for 32gb), vs. Mac Pro ($1450 for 64gb). Umm… holy crap?

Summarizing, I don’t think Mac Pro’s as we know it will ever totally go away. They are just going to evolve much more slowly than their lesser siblings. For the next phase, I could certainly see a drastic size reduction, and more modern accoutrements such as Thunderbolt ports, SSD drive bays, etc. But disappearing altogether. Nah, it’s too big of a beast for that.

Jensen

the cloud relies on stable and universal Internet access, something not available in much of rural America—at least at a price that can be paid by a middle class working person.

peter c

Life has some funny turns. Who’d have thought 10-15 yrs ago that given the oil crisis, large 4WD’s—small trucks—would become so popular.

The technology defines the path as much as the path defines the technology. As the path develops, there may be some strange twists. Certainly data centralisation wirelessly transmitted to all one’s devices in appropriate measure, is a core given. But I can’t see it all being housed in the Cloud, I think Apple has the right idea in using the Cloud as a sorting-house.

Regarding workstations, the time must come when even standard iMacs or their replacements, will pack so much punch that there’ll simply be no need to expand them for the heaviest creative task. Moore’s Law and all that. From that point on, if not before, the issue will be the interface size—screen, keyboard, or whatever. Maybe we’ll just converse with our machines, like the Knowledge Navigator in that old Apple video.

Maybe our phone-sized assistant will display from our pocket on any available screen and screens and input devices will be ubiquitous, not computers. We’ll just carry those mini-mega-muscle machines in our pockets, because they also double as phones.

zewazir

I do not see any of the three desktops going away, as they each have their place in Apple’s overall market.  While Apple’s portable market is growing, so is Apple’s desktop market, just not as fast.  The pro’s have their market, so do the iMacs, so do the mini’s.

Pro’s continue to have their market - in the professional arena (hence its name) because they are computing giants able to crunch massive amounts of data quickly and efficiently and store it internally. With the continued inclusion of massive amounts of CGI in a majority of today’s movies, that market is not going away soon.

iMacs have their place for people who want a decent desktop without all the wires associated with a headless. BTW: has anyone notice the rest of the computing desktop market are joining the flat-screen all-in-one design? When others are emulating Apple, it usually means the market for that item is still strong.

Mac minis are for smaller budget, of which there is a huge area due to the current economy. IF we ever get back onto a strong and growing economy, I predict the ratio of mini’s to iMacs sold will change in favor of the iMac, though the Mini will continue to have a strong market.

Will portables take more of the overall market as time progresses?  Quite likely.  But that will not eliminate the desktop market by a long shot, and with Apple taking more of the overall market every year, desktop sales will continue to grow, even as the portables grow faster.  So far, including the latest quarter report, the numbers support this conclusion.

ctopher

How the heck has Apple been successful when they haven’t released the ever expandable mini-tower I’ve been wanting all these years? smile

iMacs can’t be successful, they cannot be upgraded! smile

I need lots of monitors and tons of disk space for video and huge 100s of gigabyte files. I am the mainstream and Apple is going to get rid of the one machine that I can actually use? Hey, I bought 2 of those last year, Apple, are you listening? smile

Metalizer

there’s a good possibility in all of this that Apple will become more elitist, insofar as creating a light-use consumer base ? consumption being the operative word.

If they drop the Mac Pro, it will only confirm the move away from the founder user-base of producers and artists ? production being the redundant word.

I can see some of us, in that scenario, returning or migrating to the Windows/Unix world in order to continue our productivity. Some of us already have already had to buy matte screened monitors from Dell, NEC etc.
All in all, a strange irony!

vpndev

Dropping MacPro would be an interesting move, especially now that Xserve is gone. But maybe Apple is re-thinking the concept of “powerful machine”. Like ctopher, I’ve been waiting for the mini-tower and perhaps now, with Thunderbolt, it will happen. WIth it, you don’t need four disk bays. Maybe the same is true for PCIe graphics cards too, when *that* expansion box materializes.

So maybe the MacPro will become modular?

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