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.

30thanniversary

"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

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Top Rated Comments

flash84x Avatar
136 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:.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jrswizzle Avatar
136 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
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Sky Blue Avatar
136 months ago
Good. I hope people shut up about iOS X now.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
taptic Avatar
136 months ago
Phew.

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.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HurtinMinorKey Avatar
136 months ago
They'll end up backtracking on the whole convergence thing, for sure.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kerrikins Avatar
136 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.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)