Apple's Post-PC Conundrum

2017 promises to be an exciting year for Apple. Not only is it the 10th anniversary of Apple's revolutionary flagship device, the iPhone, which means we can expect to see Apple blow our minds with inventive technological leaps; but rumor has it that Apple may be preparing to introduce not two, not three, but four new iPads to the world, likely as soon as this spring. But with all the hoopla surrounding Apple's iOS devices, one can't help but wonder what's in store for the Mac; not just this year, but in years to come.

Related: iPhone 8 Rumors: New Features, Release Date, Price, and More

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10 years post iPhone and I find myself reflecting on how both the iPhone and iPad have transformed the world at large, and even my own life. Prior to the iPhone I was a die-hard Palm Treo user. I stayed up to date with the latest versions and software updates and if you'd asked me back in 2006, I'd have confidently declared the Palm OS was one of the best, most intuitive and advanced mobile operating systems available to consumers. Jump ahead 10 years and Palm OS seems about as advanced as an 80s cassette tape compared to Apple's iOS. Heck, even Apple's own iOS, circa 2007, seems rather archaic compared to the interconnected, multi-purpose, indispensable powerhouse that is iOS 10.

As I consider the huge evolutionary leaps in mobile OS, one of the things that always seems like the proverbial elephant in the room is the position of the Apple PC in the day and age of touchscreen mobile devices. Apple has doggedly proclaimed that it will never meld Mac OS and iOS. Which honestly, I think is a silly claim. To me, beyond clever marketing tactics, it seems not only inevitable, but the path that Apple has already set out on, without admitting it. Sure, it may hold out for awhile, perhaps even long past a time when other companies will have already successfully merged desktop, laptop, and mobile operating systems and user experiences. But considering trends and obvious consumer adoption rates, it would seem to me that we are headed for a day when OS and iOS will be forced to merge; a day when Apple will no longer, for the sake of keeping active separate markets and clearly delineated consumer bases, be able to continue to drive a wedge between OS and iOS.

I recently read a well-written Apple Insider article that went into great detail laying out reasons why Apple's desktop and laptop markets were here to stay and why they were so important. While much of their argument revolved around technical performance specs and specialty niches, in the end even this article had to acknowledge that these days, Mac computers were taking the majority of their cues from mobile and that it is mobile that is leading the way, not the other way around.

According to Apple Insider's article, "market excitement backed up by revenue growth, unit sales, user engagement and profitability has moved to mobile devices. In mobile devices, Apple can drive the industry, shift interaction models, introduce new camera capabilities and host new app ideas that really do change the world. In desktop and notebook PCs, those kinds of changes are far less likely to occur. The most exciting new elements Apple has brought to conventional desktop computing have largely been driven by iOS and shared back to the Mac. It's noteworthy that all of these ideas for making Macs more competitive have originated in iOS, [which] suggests that Apple's best strategy for enhancing the Mac is to simply let it continue to follow iOS and improve in tandem."

What this says to me is that laptops and desktops are not as entrenched in our technological culture as computer manufacturers would have us believe. As technology speeds up and becomes more capable of complex tasks performed in smaller spaces, and as the next generation of computer consumers come of age —the generation raised on touchscreens, to whom physical keyboards and clunky desktop computers already seem archaic (trust me on this one, I'm the father to a very tech savvy four year old)—we will see technology adapt and with few exceptions, I believe that we will see laptops and desktops either adapt and merge operating systems and technologies with tablets and smartphones, or run the risk of becoming truly antiquated and outdated.

If you think I'm being farfetched I'd encourage you to consider the advancements we've made in just 10 short years. In fact I feel that the merging of Apple's laptop, desktop, tablet, and smartphone technologies is as inevitable and perhaps as inconceievable as when the CD replaced the analog cassette tape.

*Source: Statista


Consider how much OS and iOS have already become interconnected, what with the likes of Handoff and Universal Clipboard, and iCloud sharing making apps such as Numbers, Pages, Keynote, iMovie, and Photos connect seamlessly and instantaneously regardless of device. We also have iHome and other mobile apps like Spotify, Sirius, Netflix, 1Password, and endless mobile games that have done wonders to make our wireless-connected mobile devices even more indispensable in our lives than the increasingly specialized nature of our laptops and desktops, with their physical limitations and bulky form factors. Add to that the fact that our mobile devices are actually becoming more and more able to compete with our desktops computers in terms of performance, if not storage capacity, and we can see a future where the lines between mobile and desktop devices not only should become blurred, but in my opinion, must become as minimal and unobtrusive as possible if the company is to remain at the cutting edge of technology and maintain its status as one of the leaders of technological and computing innovation.

*Top image source: DataVisualizations

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As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech