How Apple is Actually Protecting Mac Sales with Marzipan

Apple project Marzipan

Project Marzipan, bringing iOS apps to the Mac, is not a prelude to merging the OSes. It’s actually a protective measure for macOS.

Apple project Marzipan
iOS apps on macOS is not a prelude to merging the two OSes.

There was a time, before 2007, when pretty much the only computational device from Apple that customers pondered was a Mac of some kind. Later, those customers happily added iPhones, then iPads. But the Mac was the first love, and how it worked, the GUI, and its capabilities, became ingrained in our technical culture.

Nowadays, more and more young users start with a hand-me-down iPhone and naturally augment with an iPad in school. The technical needs of a Mac are deferred, both naturally and as a result of the much higer price. Eventually, college and workplace needs necessitate a Mac.

And that’s where the cognitive dissonance kicks in when the student is exposed to macOS. Everything is different and bewildering. Spoon feeding is gone. Things that more experienced users were born knowing and take for granted seem daunting.

It would seem logical to morph macOS into iOS for these younger users. But that would throw away 35 years of technical development on the Mac, capabilities that are still essential for the enterprise, government, and military.

Better to retain the technical basics of the Mac for those who need it, but present other uses with Marzipan-created apps that look and feel like their iOS counterparts.

Living in Two Worlds

This business of living in two worlds simultaneously is what Apple is supremely good at.

  • Boot Camp
  • The PowerPC to Intel transition
  • Windows, Linux in a virtual machine environment
  • [The old] X Window System (X11)
  • The terminal window and shell scripting

You name it, and Apple has probably done it when it comes to hybrid systems.┬áThe introduction of Marzipan-based apps is not only something Apple is good at, it’s also something that makes our Macs more usable, more flexible, and more delightful.

And more enduring.

Some observers will tell you that iOS apps on the Mac are a prelude to the demise of macOS. I believe the opposite. This transition makes the Mac more friendly to those who grew up with iOS but preserves the essential power of macOS for many, many others. But for newbies, it creates friendly waypoints and landmarks that provide an important comfort level required for a purchase.

And the same process is happening in reverse. iOS gains the Files app, keyboards, and, it is rumored, perhaps mice.

Instead of merging the two OSes into something less than the sum of the parts, it’s turning out to be what our Kelly Guimont calls elegant cross-pollination at the UI level.

Walking gracefully in two worlds is better than having two great OSes degenerate into one half-baked affair.

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Agreed, Sneak Peak as it’s official known will help iOS developers use assets to develop a Mac application of sorts. Whether this helps or degrades Mac apps will only show over time. If Apple does this to develop sub-standard Mac apps and sets a lower bar, it will kill Mac, not help it. It’s embarrassing that simple Mac apps like Messages don’t have feature parity with iOS, but more importantly, it’s telling that Apple thinks that’s acceptable, or that a crippled Sneak Peak port is suitable. There’s a lot of computer experimentation going on with iPad, presumably stepping stones to… Read more »


Converging iOS and MacOs was inevitable and healthy for the Apple Ecosystem, but switching out from Intel to their own processors is not a good idea. This is not 2004. I understand everyone is upset with Intel. But MacOs users and developers would be better off in the short term and long term if Apple switched to AMD. Big pieces of software like Virtual DJ, Pro Tools, AutoCAD, the full Adobe suite, Office and others will have to be scrapped and rewritten. Developers will have to fully sign their code with Apple. My main torrent client runs on Java, will… Read more »

Lee Dronick

Hopefully they will port iOS messages to OSX so that pressing return adds a new lime instead of sending the text. Yes I know how to Command-Return to add a new line, but that is very Facebook and not something that Steve would approve of.