Thursday, January 28, 2010

iPad take 2: the end of OS X

When a colleague asked why the iPad runs iPhone OS rather than OS X a wee bulb went off. Kind of like those little bittie bulbs that came with a camera flash in 1967.

The iPad with iPhone OS is the second coming of the original Macintosh. It runs an OS that anyone can use, including the 50% of the US that doesn’t really engage with the net or with personal computers. This is the OS for all those people who keep every photograph they’ve taken on a 4GB flash card in their camera.

Yes, I know the first Mac soon became far more complex. Twenty-five years ago the personal computer was growing into a geek market. Satisfying that market meant the platform became more and more powerful. That increasing power pleased geeks like me --- for a while. Even we, however, noticed that it was a lot of work to keep these machines happy.

Around the same time, a poor grad student in 1986 accidentally unleashed an internet worm. We know what came after. Security issues combined with platform complexity to give us a world in which non-geeks shouldn’t touch a connected computer.

The iPad and the App Store though, that can work for most anyone. The dependency on iTunes will fade away over time – look soon for online backup. I assume there will be viruses, but the iPhone world will be a very tough, locked down, target.

Chrome OS will be playing in the same big field – non-geek computing.

The geek environments won’t go away immediately, but the end is in sight. Ten years from now we may say that the iPad killed OS X.

My first iPad impressions were cautiously positive. I think I missed the real target. The iPad isn’t aimed at Microsoft or Google or even the Macbook. It’s aimed at everything.

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