Well, as many of you may already know, last Monday was Apple‘s yearly Worldwide Developers Conference. As it has been widely discussed, it generally didn’t show new “top-secret”, eye-dropping new features of the future release of Mac’s OSX. However, there are three points that I believe have not been widely discussed that I feel are of great importance.
The first, is the announcement by EA Games (which we visited during the residential period at Silicon Valley ;) ) and id Software of future game releases for the Mac platform. This is definitely good news, considering that gaming is one of the weakest points of the Mac. But what is very important are the underlying reasons, and its that the Mac is gaining popularity, period. It is starting to become an attractive market for programmers, in which they will find a big enough market that makes Mac programming profitable. So maybe this means that a critical mass of mac users has been reached, with which more and more programmers will begin to shift towards the Mac. This will in turn make Macs more attractive, with a wider offer of applications. How will this change the monopoly of Windows in the future? I guess we will have to wait and see.
Another announcement that took place was the release of the Safari browser for Windows. Although at first sight it looks as a move to increase the market share of Apple’s browser, I believe there are more underlying reasons. First of all, Safari’s future increase in popularity is questionable… starting because most of the Mac users (including me) use Firefox primarily. I think Safari is a great browser but is missing an important feature, which are plugins. Without plugins, it is impossible to expand the browser’s features as you can now do with Firefox. Therefore, as much as I like Safari for some things, I will keep using Firefox. Therefore, this move is very questionable as a try to hook new Windows users and convert them into switchers. Specially now that just after a few hours of release several security holes have been found in Safari.
But in fact, Safari was released for Windows for another purpose: the creation and testing of applications for the iPhone. Which brings us to the other big important announcement: the iPhone will only support Web 2.0 applications, which in other words is no applications. Or is it? I think this marks clearly the shift from typical system based applications to web based applications. And there are several advantages. First, as Apple’s main concern, it is a lot easier to maintain a level of security and system stability. And second, there are no needs for installation, maintenance, updating, etc. Everything is maintained remotely and updated instantly for every user. This I believe is the future, if not for all uses, but at least for a lot. This however, also limits in a way the possibilities for such applications. An important example we have already studied at the MMTDB is Salesforce, which manages to remove the cost of system maintenance from its users and gains by economies of scale.
This is another move towards the previous model of shared computing power through “dumb” terminals. Let’s see how fast and how far we will go in this direction…