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Apple Executives Consider Thirty Years of Macintosh, Say iOS and OS X Convergence 'A Non-Goal'

To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the unveiling of the original Macintosh -- tomorrow, January 24, 2014 -- Macworld has published a lengthy interview with three Apple executives to discuss where the Mac has been, and where it is going. Senior Vice President of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, and Vice President of Software Technology Bud Tribble -- who was a member of the original Mac development team -- all shared their thoughts and the full article is well worth a read.

Among the more interesting tidbits from the interviews is one particular statement from Federighi, where he notes that while iOS and OS X do share some cross-pollination of features and design, they will not become one operating platform without good reason. He says that the Mac has "been honed for over 30 years to be optimal" for keyboards and mice, while attaching a touchscreen to a PC -- or a keyboard to a tablet -- without a good reason to do so makes for a bad experience.

"We don’t waste time thinking, 'But it should be one [interface!]' 'How do you make these [operating systems] merge together?' What a waste of energy that would be," Schiller said. But he added that the company definitely tries to smooth out bumps in the road that make it difficult for its customers to switch between a Mac and an iOS device. For example, making sure its messaging and calendaring apps have the same name on both OS X and iOS.

"To say [OS X and iOS] should be the same, independent of their purpose? Let’s just converge, for the sake of convergence? [It’s] absolutely a non-goal," Federighi said. "You don’t want to say the Mac became less good at being a Mac because someone tried to turn it into iOS. At the same time, you don’t want to feel like iOS was designed by [one] company and Mac was designed by [a different] company, and they’re different for reasons of lack of common vision. 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. 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."
Macworld editor Jason Snell mentions that though he brought an iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air to the interview at Apple's Cupertino campus, he ultimately chose to take notes on the MacBook -- something not lost on the Apple execs.
"You had a bunch of tools," Federighi said, pointing at my bag. And you pulled out the one that felt right for the job that you were doing. It wasn’t because it had more computing power … you pulled it out because it was the most natural device to accomplish a task."
Schiller said Apple believed that the Mac "keeps going forever" because its differences make it really valuable. The current Mac lineup looks very different from what Steve Jobs introduced thirty years ago, but Apple clearly considers it crucial to the future of the company.

Images courtesy Shrine of Apple

Top Rated Comments

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65 months ago

You don’t want to say the Mac became less good at being a Mac because someone tried to turn it into iOS.

Hi-hip-hooray! So glad to hear they aren't following in Microsoft's footsteps on this. Keep doing what you do :apple:.
Rating: 30 Votes
65 months ago
As long as they still seamlessly work together, I'm 10000% behind this line of thinking!

Next "goal" - making iOS AirDrop and OSX AirDrop the same thing :D
Rating: 29 Votes
65 months ago
Good. I hope people shut up about iOS X now.
Rating: 25 Votes
65 months ago

That was scary for a little while there.... thought we were in for a Windows 8 move with all that talk of a 12 inch iPad and everyone wanting a more advanced OS on it.
Rating: 24 Votes
65 months ago
This is good, I don't think we really need them to merge at the moment. Maybe in the future, but for now I prefer having the laptop form factor at home - vastly preferable to the tablet keyboard, for one. I think tablets work well for viewing media, not so much for creating it or even writing things, etc.
Rating: 9 Votes
65 months ago
They'll end up backtracking on the whole convergence thing, for sure.
Rating: 9 Votes
65 months ago
Well I guess that confirms the opinion of Windows 8 for Apple fans.

Well screw em. I like Windows 8. :p
Rating: 7 Votes
65 months ago
I'm glad to hear this, it's something we needed to hear (that there are no grand plans to merge OSX and iOS).

Rating: 7 Votes
65 months ago
I wish there was a "like" button for this article, because upon reading this article, it's nice to know that Apple still feels that the Mac is very, very relevant and has no plans to discontinue or do away with keyboard/mouse and larger screen computing anytime soon. Personally, I think the iOS stuff is a newer 'fad' of sorts and rarely use my iPad or iPhone as much as I use my Macintosh. I am a desktop junkie, if you could call it that!
Rating: 6 Votes
65 months ago
"...when it makes sense"
"...without a good reason"

Apple is known for saying "We think X doesn't make sense at all, because of the problem of Y." We tend to interpret that as "See? They're not going to do X". What they really mean is "we're working on solving the problem of Y."

Then they get on stage and say "Well, X doesn't make sense, because of Y. But introducing this little twist on X! We've solved Y!" and suddenly they have a huge hit and they upend the way the industry sees things. And everyone says "Duh, why didn't we think of this before."

They said small-capacity flash MP3 players didn't make sense... so they built the hard-drive based iPod.
They said smartphones with tiny keyboards didn't make sense... so they built a touchscreen iPhone.
They said cheap netbooks didn't make sense... so they built the first ultrabook instead.

Now they (seem to be) saying convertible touchscreen laptops don't make sense... so what are they up to?
Rating: 6 Votes

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