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Could the Mac become a Post-PC device?

Today I did a little thought experiment thinking about if an ARM based MacBook Air would be viable, and what the pros and cons would be.

Pros:

  • Battery life
  • Return to in house chip development
  • iOS and Mac running on the same architectures
  • Probably a good long term bet, as ARM is here to stay and winning the performance per watt battle

Cons:

  • No Bootcamp, parallels or the such
  • No Rosetta-like intel emulation for existing apps
  • Probably less performant, although with enough Cores going on, probably not that big of an issue.

However the more interesting point to me is that Apple is here to innovate. Mac OS X has kind of seen its time and iOS in itself is a good companion, but not a replacement. If they really want to change the way the standard computer works then a mandatory transition to another hardware platform could be the way.

How could such a future look like:

  • It would be one big step further in the direction Lion is taking. But since backwards compatibility is not an issue there, as developers would have to recompile and adjust to the hardware anyways, Apple could cut with old metaphors and really innovate. E.g. away with the standard file system. Away with the unix shell. Away with the Menubar. Keep technologies and infrastructure, but only expose the Developers to the new environment.
  • Redo AppKit from ground up, gone with the slapping on of technologies adapted from the iOS development, a real first class DesktopUIKit, give it the same love that the rewriting did for iOS, perfectly adapted to the new and improved interface metaphors.
  • The platform would be closed in the same way that iOS is closed. Apps only via the App Store, nothing else. There is a clear incentive for Apple to do this, 30% of every sale made.
  • The platform would include full support of iOS and iPad Apps out of the box. E.g. the platform would be comprised of a multiple of the iOS/iPad resolutions so multiple iOS apps could be used at once
  • Great integration of multitouch, both via the trackpad and also directly on the screen. 

In essence Apple would create a third platform between iOS and Mac and use it as an opportunity to implement major changes in the user interaction model. It could leverage the existing Developer base in the same way, or even more so than they did with iOS.

The major flaw in that theory: This third platform really needs a good incentive for users to jump on. Something as "magical" as the iPad had. And I have no clue what that might be, but hey, that's just me, I also thought that Apple needed something special for an iPad to make sense. And all they needed was a great execution of the basic features, reduced to the max to chime in the Post-PC era. The next step: to make the Mac make the jump into the Post-PC era as well

So these are my 2 cents, here to stay to be laughed at in the future ;)