Apple executives discuss future of Mac on platform's 30th anniversary

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Apple's Mac, MacWorld interviewed Apple executives Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi and Bud Tribble, who shared their thoughts on what the Mac means to the company today, and how it will evolve in the future.

iMac
Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller introducing the latest iMac form factor in 2012.


In the article, published on Thursday to coincide with Mac's 30th birthday, Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said the stalwart keyboard-and-mouse computing system plays an integral role in a very diverse ecosystem.

"It's not an either/or," Schiller said. "It's a world where you're going to have a phone, a tablet, a computer, you don't have to choose. And so what's more important is how you seamlessly move between them all ... it's not like this is a laptop person and that's a tablet person. It doesn't have to be that way."

With the popularity the iPhone and iPad driving incredible sales numbers, some speculate that Apple may put Mac on the back burner to concentrate on iOS. According to Vice President of Software Technology Bud Tribble, iOS devices are actually driving Mac development.

"The thing that has turbocharged the Mac has been the advent of the iPhone and the iPad," Tribble said, adding that Apple's decision to combine OS X and iOS hardware and software teams has given Mac new life. "That cross-pollination of ideas, the fact that the [Mac and iOS] teams are the same team, has propelled the Mac further than I had hoped for."

On that note, the execs said a melding of OS X and iOS is not in the playbook. Rumors of a combination platform emerged when Apple promoted lead Mac engineer Craig Federighi to SVP of Software Engineering. Under the new title, Federighi has purview of a much wider area that includes both of Apple's operating systems.

Federighi


Instead of merging the two platforms, however, Apple is apparently keeping them on separate paths moving forward. Unlike Microsoft's latest Windows efforts, Apple believes keyboard-and-mouse and multitouch are better served by distinct systems and tools.

"The reason OS X has a different interface than iOS isn't because one came after the other or because this one's old and this one's new," Federighi said. Pointing to a MacBook Air, he said, "This device has been honed over 30 years to be optimal" for keyboards and mice.

Schiller and Federighi both believe the current solution is the best of both worlds, and simply "slap[ping] a touchscreen on a piece of hardware" is not the solution. Convergence is not a goal for Apple, but delivering the best possible experience for each category is.

"We have a common sense of aesthetics, a common set of principles that drive us, and we're building the best products we can for their unique purposes," Federighi said. "So you'll see them be the same where that makes sense, and you'll see them be different in those things that are critical to their essence."

Mac Pro


The future of Mac appears to be secure, according to the executives, and future iterations will likely see dramatic changes in appearance and operability. Schiller said that in some ways, the success of Apple's iOS devices has left room for the company to push the boundaries of Mac.

In the end, on the 30th anniversary of Mac, Apple is upbeat as to what the future holds.

"Every company that made computers when we started the Mac, they're all gone," said Schiller. "We're the only one left. We're still doing it, and growing faster than the rest of the PC industry because of that willingness to reinvent ourselves over and over."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
     

    Instead, it’s because using a mouse and keyboard just isn’t the same as tapping with your finger. “It’s obvious and easy enough to slap a touchscreen on a piece of hardware, but is that a good experience?” Federighi said. “We believe, no.”


     

    HOLY CRAP WHAT A CONCEPT. Why is it so difficult for some Apple users to comprehend this? Federighi is freaking awesome.

  • Reply 2 of 56
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,694member
    HOLY CRAP WHAT A CONCEPT. Why is it so difficult for some Apple users to comprehend this? Federighi is freaking awesome.

    He's just saying because he is paid by Apple. The convergence of OS X and iOS is inevitable. Just like the convergence of all appliances. In a few years, Sammy will introduce a fridge-oven-sink hybrid appliance. /s

    Happy birthday, Mac.
  • Reply 3 of 56
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

     

    HOLY CRAP WHAT A CONCEPT. Why is it so difficult for some Apple users to comprehend this? Federighi is freaking awesome.


    Why is it so difficult for some people to comprehend that opinions may vary? You and I may agree with Fonzie, but not why not leave others to their own opinion?

  • Reply 4 of 56

    Originally Posted by StruckPaper View Post

    Why is it so difficult for some people to comprehend that opinions may vary?

     

    Because there are opinions and then there’s being just plain wrong. It’s still an “opinion”, it’s just wrong.

  • Reply 5 of 56
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,802member
    Why is it so difficult for some people to comprehend that opinions may vary? You and I may agree with Fonzie, but not why not leave others to their own opinion?

    Opinions are fine but experience is a ruthless teacher. Anybody that has used touch screens on other desktop systems knows that they leave much to be desired. Operating system convergence, if you want to call it that, will come via AI and other advance technologies. Putting a touch interface on the Mac is looking towards the past not the future.
  • Reply 6 of 56
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,240member

    Happy 30th birthday Macintosh (and me!).

  • Reply 7 of 56
    ``With the popularity the iPhone and iPad driving incredible sales numbers, some speculate that Apple may put Mac on the back burner to concentrate on iOS. According to Vice President of Software Technology Bud Tribble, iOS devices are actually driving Mac development.''

    ``With the popularity of the iPhone and iPad driving incredible sales numbers, some speculate that Apple may put Mac on the back burner to concentrate on iOS. According to Vice President of Software Technology Bud Tribble, iOS devices are actually driving Mac development.
  • Reply 8 of 56

    I'm so glad Bud Tribble and Craig Federighi are in the positions of power they hold.

  • Reply 9 of 56
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

     

    HOLY CRAP WHAT A CONCEPT. Why is it so difficult for some Apple users to comprehend this? Federighi is freaking awesome.


     

    What most folks don't grasp is that Steve would never authorize the merging of both platforms and eliminating the keyboard and mouse.

     

    Each platform is optimized for it's purpose(s)  and having the idea of a swiss army knife of computing is not feasible, nor is it productive.

  • Reply 10 of 56
    They seen to have a good grip on their own design principles.
  • Reply 11 of 56
    What most folks don't grasp is that Steve would never authorize the merging of both platforms and eliminating the keyboard and mouse.

    Steve threatened to come back and haunt anyone at Apple that would try to do that... and you know he would too!
  • Reply 12 of 56
    kkerstkkerst Posts: 330member
    Opinions? Don't talk to me about opinions. ;-)
  • Reply 13 of 56
    Great news, 30 years and running well(for desktop market) and the part of no other computer making company has excited since then, I wonder if this will be true again in another 30.
  • Reply 14 of 56
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    What most folks don't grasp is that Steve would never authorize the merging of both platforms and eliminating the keyboard and mouse.

    Each platform is optimized for it's purpose(s)  and having the idea of a swiss army knife of computing is not feasible, nor is it productive.
    Steve's gone. What he would or wouldn't do is irrelevant now.
  • Reply 15 of 56
    nhtnht Posts: 4,460member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

     

    Because there are opinions and then there’s being just plain wrong. It’s still an “opinion”, it’s just wrong.


     

    You mean like the "it must be named iPhone 6" opinion or the "iPad Mini will never happen and even if it does it will suck" opinion?

     

    I think you said everyone else was "plain wrong" those times as well.

     

    It's plain wrong until Apple turns around and does it.  What they say here is exactly what they said all those other times:  current designs require too many negative trade offs and we won't make them.  Netbook -> 11" Macbook Air and 7" Tablet -> 8" iPad Mini are the two obvious examples of where other manufacturers made too many tradeoffs to meet a specific need (in both cases size) and Apple waited until they could make a small laptop or tablet that didn't suck.

     

    Just because Microsoft has failed to make a good hybrid does not mean that it is not possible any more than Microsofts failure to make a good tablet operating system meant that usable tablets were not possible.  Even then you could see the potential, it was simply the execution that was poor except perhaps in apps like OneNote (which I liked).

     

    A significant problem with hybrids today is they make many physical tradeoffs in order to be a hybrid ending up as both a thick tablet and a thicker than normal (and often oddly balanced) ultrabook.  Knowing Apple they want an elegant yet robust solution that is not yet mechanically feasible from a mass production and cost perspective.

  • Reply 16 of 56
    It always seems someone has to respond about THEIR own opinion. Screw that. Discuss the first idea first. This wild-eyed committee approach of opinions is always so dull and in the end produces no consensus only lack of sensus. Someone else said Federighi is getting PAID to say what he says. He's getting PAID, true, but why can't he believe what he says AND... why can't we believe him or Schiller?
  • Reply 17 of 56
    rmb0037rmb0037 Posts: 142member

    "We have a common sense of aesthetics, a common set of principles that drive us, and we're building the best products we can for their unique purposes," Federighi said. "So you'll see them be the same where that makes sense, and you'll see them be different in those things that are critical to their essence."
    I love this discussion, but this quote is why I am a fan of this company. As of right now I am perfectly happy with how apple is handling both OS X and iOS.

    This will be a fantastic year.
  • Reply 18 of 56
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

    What most folks don't grasp is that Steve would never authorize the merging of both platforms and eliminating the keyboard and mouse.


     

    Why? This I totally agree with, 100%. This I don’t. I’ve been saying that tablets and desktops are the future since 2008. I’ve been saying that Apple’s desktop line will go multitouch since probably right around then, too. That doesn’t mean that Apple desktops will get iOS. That would ruin them. Ruin them. iOS is as fitting to the desktop as OS X is to the tablet.

     

    We know what happens when you put a cursor-based OS on a touchscreen device (Windows tablets). We also know what happens when you make a desktop touchscreen device that isn’t designed around the desktop experience (Surface, the real one, not the rebranding).

     

    When I look at the history of Apple, I see Steve was willing to change when it made sense. Let’s even say ‘only willing’. He took one look at a GUI-based OS and said, “This is the future. We’re doing this,” and he ignored the Apple ][ line for the rest of its existence. He took one look at the tablet OS Apple made roundabout 2005 and said, “We can make a phone out of this!”

     

    iOS isn’t suitable to replace keyboard and mouse. Not yet, nor will it ever be. Even if Apple decides to drop the iOS name and the OS XI theory and call the two softwares by the same name, they won’t be. Rather, shouldn’t be. I do say won’t because Federighi’s statements make me confident that he won’t make the utter crap that some Apple users think they want. At its heart, to be the best mobile OS it can be, iOS has to remain fundamentally iOS. To be the best desktop OS it has to be, OS XI has to remain a desktop-class OS. I think OS XI will be more application-oriented than OS X is. It’s all about coming back around that circle, you know? Apple talks about it themselves. iOS’ Springboard looks a little like the Desktop from 1984: image behind, bar above, icons upon. And so OS XI’s baseline interface will look like iOS’ Springboard. But you can’t have it work without the flexibility that OS X has right now. 

     

    But I’m worthless. You actually worked with the guy! I’m really curious where I’m wrong with the above; you’d know better than probably any of us (except dasanman69, who is really Forstall in disguise). Steve wasn’t afraid to abandon blinkenlights for the keyboard and screen. He wasn’t afraid to abandon the keyboard and screen for keyboard+mouse+GUI. Why do you think he wouldn’t make a desktop multitouch OS–not iOS–if it fit the use case of a desktop computer?

  • Reply 19 of 56
    arlorarlor Posts: 498member
    Speaking of opinions, that new Mac Pro pictured here still looks like a trashcan to me. The design of the internals is amazing, but the exterior: trashcan.
  • Reply 20 of 56
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    What most folks don't grasp is that Steve would never authorize the merging of both platforms and eliminating the keyboard and mouse.

    Each platform is optimized for it's purpose(s)  and having the idea of a swiss army knife of computing is not feasible, nor is it productive.

    Rubbish!

    All-in-one-convergence is the way to go.

    In the future, I look forward to being woken by the alarm on on my Samsung Galaxy phone, having it transform into my HTC toothbrush and LG deodorant so I may adhere to the rules of personal hygiene, then leave my apartment and have it change into my Microsoft car (which uses video cameras to navigate instead of windows in order to reduce the chance of crashes that may cause me to emit blue screams of death) to get me to work.

    Anyone who can't see this seriously needs Google glasses.
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