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We join spokes together in a wheel, but it is the emptiness of the center hole that makes the wagon move.
We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.
John Gruber notes a line of demarkation: the new iPad Air is firmly in new territory, with higher performance than the high water mark of pre-iPad laptop, the MacBook.
We are past the threshold, and moving forward fast into the post-PC era. And we don’t really know yet how different it will be. But there are no old roads to new directions, so brace yourself.
John Gruber, ‘Google Versus’
John Gruber, The iPhone and Disruption: Five Years In
Gruber responds to a Windows 8 fan boy, Paul Thurrott, who twittered ‘Hello, Windows 8? This is iPad. You win.’ after seeing a demo on a Samsung-produced tablet:
John Gruber via Daring Fireball
What did Microsoft show, though? They showed a Metro-style touchscreen tablet user interface that is, without argument, original. No accusations of ripping off the iPad here. Microsoft is admirably blazing its own trail.
But the OS reportedly isn’t coming out for at least a year. The demo tablet hardware from Samsung they’re showing it on (and giving to Build attendees) is a Core i5 Intel-based PC replete with a fan. Spec-wise these units are much more like MacBook Airs than iPads. Presumably actual shipping iPad-competing Windows 8 tablets will use low-power mobile CPUs — be they ARM, Atom, whatever, just so long as they get iPad-caliber long battery life and low temperatures.
How will Windows 8 run on such hardware? When will they actually ship? How many as-yet-unannounced iPad 3s will Apple have sold by the time the first Windows 8 tablet hits stores? (Not to mention the many tens of millions of iPad 2s Apple will sell in just the next quarter alone.)
It’s all in the future. All potential, nothing actual. Think about how different Apple’s and Microsoft’s approaches are. Apple unveiled the iPad to the public only when it was a completely finished product, two months before it hit stores. The demo units we in the press had access to that day were exactly like the mass-produced iPads that shipped to customers two months later. Can you imagine Apple doing with the iPad what Microsoft is doing with Windows 8? Say, showing a prototype iPad at WWDC in June 2009, running on MacBook Pro-caliber Intel hardware? Letting the public and the press play with the OS in half-finished alpha state on prototype hardware? Impossible even to imagine. (There were no hands-on demos, let alone take-home prototypes or developer downloads, when Apple showed a “sneak preview” of Mac OS X Lion at last year’s “Back to the Mac” event.)
I’m not passing judgment here — at least not yet — regarding which strategy is superior. I simply wish to direct your attention at how utterly different the two companies are.
Gruber seems to be making a corporate culture argument, but I think this is also a case of Microsoft playing catch-up, from way back in the pack.They hope to stall some buyers from buying an iPad, thinking that some razzamatazz might hypnotize them.
But iPad is clearly dominating the tablet space, and I don’t think Microsoft has a chance.
I am still betting on a Microsoft/Facebook social OS alliance. I wonder how closely integrated Facebook will be in Windows 8, when it launches.
John Gruber predicts Apple’s direction with iOS cord cutting: when we will not have to use a PC to manage our iOS devices.
After Apple’s iPad 2 introduction event last month, I ran into Josh Topolsky, and, of course, we talked about what we thought of it. Topolsky made an interesting observation: that the iPad 2 epitomized how Apple seems to be a generation ahead of its competitors on the device side — both hardware and software — but a generation behind on the cloud side.
I’ve been thinking about the iPad in this context ever since, and I think it’s a perfect synopsis of the state of iOS. There will be no tablet this year from any competitor that matches the iPad 2 in terms of elegance, battery life, or build quality. No competing OS will match iOS in terms of on-the-device user experience.
But most iPad competitors have little-to-no reliance on a connection to a desktop PC, the way an iPad does.
The announcement many people seem to be waiting for is for Apple to tell iOS users they no longer need iTunes on the Mac or Windows. The announcement I’d like to see is for iOS users to no longer need to pay for MobileMe to wirelessly sync calendars, contacts — and any other small bits of data from apps from the App Store.
iBooks does this. If you pause while reading a book on your iPad, then resume reading on your iPhone, it picks up on the same page in the book. Kindle and a bunch of other e-reading services do this too. The point isn’t that iBooks is unique or ahead of the curve in this regard. It’s that you don’t need MobileMe for iBooks. It’s all handled by the iTunes Store itself. You buy books on your device, you read them on your device, and your history, bookmarks and other metadata all get synced to your iTunes account in the cloud. And it works great. But a lot more apps should work like this. Should wireless Safari bookmark syncing cost $99 a year? Shouldn’t it be easy for iOS game developers to sync progress for the same game across multiple devices using the same iTunes account? App Store developers shouldn’t have to rely on another third party — Dropbox — for this sort of functionality.
And those third-party iOS developers that are depending upon Dropbox — there’s a veritable cottage industry of Dropbox text editors alone — have a far better syncing experience than Apple’s own creative apps. The iPad versions of the iWork suite and GarageBand are exquisite apps — easily some of the best-designed user experiences for creative software ever made. But the process of getting, say, a slide deck created in Keynote on your iPad open in Keynote on your iMac is downright antediluvian. Google Docs has none of the UI panache, but the syncing is invisible. You just open Google Docs, and there are your files. Doesn’t matter which machine you used to edit or create them, or which machine you’re using now, they’re all just there. That’s part of the overall experience.
That’s where Apple is behind.