OS X Lion: The iPadification of the Mac begins now

The unification of Apple's Mac OS and iOS begins with OS X Lion. Perhaps too soon for some, including myself.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

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 Displaywhich, 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.

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