OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

Summary: The unification of Apple's Mac OS and iOS begins with OS X Lion. Perhaps too soon for some, including myself.

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The unification of Apple's Mac OS and iOS begins with OS X Lion. Perhaps too soon for some, including myself.

If you haven't noticed, the times, they are a 'changin in Mac OS X and even on the Mac hardware platform itself.

Almost exactly one year ago today I wrote a piece called "Dear Rabid Apple Fans: Your Precious Mac Club is Being Disbanded. Blame iPad."

Now, mind you that when I wrote this piece, I did not anticipate becoming an actual Rabid Apple Fan myself.

I had been an iPad user for several months, but it wasn't until this year when I bought my first Mac, a Mini server. And then an IPad 2. And then an Apple TV. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about that one, my bad.

Still, regardless of the emotional framework I was living under when I wrote that piece in July of 2010, much of what I talked about has transpired or has already become true. I had said that within four years, that the iPad would eclipse the Mac in terms of total installed base.

While the total installed base of Macs still outnumber iPads, Apple has managed to in just one year derive a revenue stream from iPad that is greater than the Mac.

In the June quarter, Apple sold 9.2 million iPads for approximately $6B in revenue. In the same accounting period, it sold 3.9 million Macs for $5.1 billion in revenue.

Now, this is not to say the the Mac is dying. The Mac is most certainly not dying, because $5.1 billion in a quarter is a heck of a lot of money.

Still, if you look at the transformative changes that are occurring in the Mac product line, it's hard not to spot the convergence between the platforms that is already happening.

Frankly, I think a lot of it is happening too soon.

Don't get me wrong. I really like what Apple is doing with the "Launchpad" (effectively the iPad UI ported to Mac) full screen apps (Making the Mac act like a giant iPad) and also the multitouch gestures they've ported over from the iPad to various native Lion apps, such as Safari, which has now replaced Chrome as my Mac browser of choice due to these very enhancements.

In fact, all of this "iPadification" makes Lion a real pleasure to use, once I reversed the default scroll behavior. Some people aren't a big fan of this, but I'm all for freebasing it.

Give me more of this, Apple. Much more.

While this "iPadification" of Mac OS X is something that I embrace wholeheartedly, what is happening to the Mac hardware, however, is making me nervous. Full daily dose of Xanax-level nervous, in fact.

Yesterday Apple also released several new products to go along with Lion. They launched a bunch of new Macbook Airs (replacing the classic Macbook, making the MBA and the MBP the only laptops still remaining on Macbook Survivor) as well as two new Mac Minis.

All of which sport the new Thunderbolt I/O port.

They also replaced the 27" Cinema Display with the new Thunderbolt Display which, you guessed it, only connects to Thunderbolt-compatible Macs.

I was thrilled to hear this, having waited for the Cinema display refresh, and was about to order a new Thunderbolt display and a new Thunderbolt-enabled Mac Pro and give my current Mac Mini to my wife until I realized, they didn't launch a new Thunderbolt-enabled Mac Pro.

Now, I don't want to get too paranoid about this. Maybe the Mac Pro refresh is due in six to eight weeks, and then I can order my new monster content-creation Mac and Thunderbolt Display with 32GB of RAM, dual i7's or Xeons and replace my primary Linux workstation and Mini in one fell swoop.

Or, as my blogging colleague Scott Raymond posits, us power-users and high-end folks might very well be screwed.

Also Read: Apple is Abandoning the Professional Market

Currently, the most powerful Thunderbolt-enabled Mac that I can buy which isn't a laptop or an iMac is a Mac Mini Server with a 2.0Ghz Core i7 and 8GB of RAM.

The new Mini Server, unlike the dual-core i5 workstation model, has an anemic Intel Graphics 3000 chip in it rather than the Radeon HD 6630M. So I might as well go with say, a maxxed-out Macbook Pro 15". Or the Maxxed-out 27" iMac which have 1GB Radeons in them.

None of which are powerful enough to replace both my Dual Quad-Core 2.4Ghz Opteron with a professional 1GB graphics card, 16GB of RAM, and my current Core 2 Duo Mac Mini with a 256MB GeForce chip and 8GB of RAM.

The current Mac Pro is, but it can't connect to the Thunderbolt display. It uses DisplayPort and HDMI.

Look, don't get me wrong, I love my Mini. It's a great web browsing and general computing system, and it seems to do okay when running Aperture and iMovie. But I need more power. A lot more power if I want to go all-Mac.

I need something that can handle heavy virtualization in VMWare Fusion and crunch DVD video in iMovie or Final Cut or Lightroom and RAW SLR exposures in Aperture or Photoshop like nobody's business, without even breaking a sweat.

I understand that Apple is making a lot of money from consumers, and that's where a lot of their growth is. And even I believe that eventually, iOS and Mac OS X will probably converge into a single OS that runs on a multi-core highly scalable 64-bit ARM architecture.

In fact, I applaud it and I want to see this happen.

But now is not the time, Apple, to kill off the high-end professional Mac. Don't do it. Please.

Are you waiting nervously for a Mac Pro refresh or are loathing the effects of "iPadification" on Mac OS X? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

See also:

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Hardware, Mobile OS, Software

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

81 comments
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  • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

    The problem is the current state of internal card connectors - how would you plug in a graphics card that had say a pair of Thunderbolt connectors? That's a serious bandwidth need, I don't know what connector you'd use! Without an answer to that question, I don't see how you build what we understand to be a Mac Pro...

    I'm sure Apple will have a solution but they'll need to sync this up with ATI - and I can imagine that could take a little time.
    jeremychappell
    • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

      @jeremychappell No, the Thunderbolt display acts as a hub. You'd chain them, like USB or firewire.
      jperlow
      • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

        @jperlow Err, that's not what I mean. How do you connect the graphics card INSIDE the Mac Pro? The iMac has two Thunderbolt connectors on it, you'd not want a card with fewer than that would you?
        Jeremy-UK
      • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

        "The Windowsification" of tablets of phones is bad, but the iPadefecation of the Mac is good?
        nomorebs
      • Jason, your info is incorrect

        @jperlow
        "Currently, the most powerful Thunderbolt-enabled Mac that I can buy which isn?t a laptop or an iMac is a Mac Mini Server with a 2.0Ghz Core i7 and 8GB of RAM."

        You can buy an Thunderbolt iMac w/ 3.4GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7 and 16GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM.

        You can also get more powerful thunderbolt MacBook Pros.

        I suspect the Pro's will refresh soon... No need to get them in a bunch just yet.
        i8thecat3
      • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

        @i8thecat3 Did you not even read the portion that you quoted? He specifically said "...which isn?t a laptop or an iMac...". You then tell him he is wrong and point out an iMac and a MB Pro.
        non-biased
    • Replace the Graphics Card?

      @jeremychappell ...surely with using 2 slots (one to handle the data side, one to handle the graphics) and chaining together inside the Mac Pro could achieve this???
      mattmuir
      • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

        @mattmuir Two Thunderbolt connectors? Nope.
        Jeremy-UK
  • Apple Thunderbolt display is exactly the same in the matrix/picture/colours

    ... quality as Apple Cinema Display. All the changes have to do with other things than video/picture quality.

    So if you are going to buy Mac Pro (which will have Thunderbold), then you can still buy Apple Cinema Display now. And you will get your Thunderbolt port with Mac Pro; it does not have to be necessary in the display. Thunderbolt is not like USB 2.0 where you might want a closer port for plugging in Flash drive every now and then.

    Also, it should be taken into account that Apple Thunderbold Display will ship only in the middle of September. This means that by that time Apple might very well already release Thunderbolt Mac Pro.
    DDERSSS
  • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

    Not to start a flame war, but it sounds like you should just build your own PC. I use a 2010 MBP for my primary use at home, effectively "desktoping" it with a beautiful Dell UltraSharp external display. Love it. However, I built a 6 core AMD powerhouse PC for about 800$ to handle all my needs that my mac can't...rather doesn't; 3d graphics, gaming, intense 3d design, those sorts of things.<br><br>Nothing wrong with having both OS's to satisfy seperate needs. I use iMovie on the MBP but it suffers, but it comes at the fact that I don't want to spend 3k on a Mac Pro.

    Good luck on your quest :)
    thejellymon
    • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

      @thejellymon Nobdy is taking offense to that, but the thing is that everyone present is aware that they can build a PC by themselves. This article is not about those computers.
      nickswift498
  • Thunderbolt looks like pro level I/O technology

    Hard to imagine it wouldn't end up in the Mac Pros. Perhaps they've rolled it out on consumer devices first for volume, and to get third parties building compatible peripherals.
    GoPower
  • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

    It seems that Apple was going for maximum profit on these new machines. The Intel 3000 graphics is the gpu built into the i5 cpu. That is fine for your average user who checks Email and facebook. If you need to do any thing more it is going to struggle. Plus they removed the dvd drive to save even more money. It wouldn't have added much to the cost to add an extra 2 gig of ram either.

    I hope they don't dumb down the interface to much. My iPad is a great toy, but I can't see it ever replacing a PC
    MarkWB
    • DVD drive removal had other reasons...

      @MarkWB
      ...such as promoting the iTunes rentals/purchases.
      After all, physical media are so pass?, digital downloads are what matter!

      if it hadn't been for the DVD drive removal, I was seriously considering the new mini as a viable contender for my next computer. As it stands, I'll just buy a dell or build my own.
      shryko
      • $79 will fix that problem....

        @shryko ...as it will afford you the external drive. It is actually a cheap solution if you consider the multiple DVD region locking - for $158 I can have 2 Region Specific drives that I can swap between.
        mattmuir
    • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

      @MarkWB

      The i3/i5 built in graphics are fine for 60 FPS 1080HD video as well. Granted they are not for gaming or heavy graphics production. They do get a 4. on the Win7 video performance rating where 7.9 is the fastest video available. So video costs about $10 to score around 4 and $1500 to score close to 8 with a dual pci-e setup.
      mswift@...
    • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

      @MarkWB [i]Plus they removed the dvd drive to save even more money.[/i]
      I have seen this comment a few times but it fails. Sure, they removed the DVD drive (which I don't agree with) but you neglect to consider that they also dropped the price by $100. Do you really think including the drive even cost them close to that let alone they are making more money now?
      non-biased
  • Irony

    I find it amusing that Mary Jo Foley, after describing the requirements of an Apple AIR perfectly ... lusted after a Windows 7 netbook and then bought an iPad.

    Even more amusing that Jason Perlow, after describing a Windows power professional spec. exactly and noting Apple's abandonment of the pro market ... buys a bunch of Apples.

    There is no logic in their purchasing proclivities ... despite their extensive knowledge ... just emotion.
    jacksonjohn
    • RE: OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

      @johnfenjackson@...
      "...There is no logic in their purchasing proclivities ... despite their extensive knowledge ... just emotion..."

      Maybe their logic told them that at this time Mac fits their needs. Could have happened you know.

      Now, tell us how you know it was 'just emotion'. Just because something is not for you does not mean it is not for someone else. Why would you denounce them for their purchases anyway? Your comment sounds like grammar school playground banter.
      BubbaJones_
      • Just sit back and enjoy the irony in the parent

        going on an emotional rant about why people buy Macs.
        fr_gough