OS X Lion and the Post-PC Era: Yay or No Way?, Part 4
Will Post-PC Computing Leave Real Mac Users Behind?
- 2011.07.20 - Tip Jar
All Good Things Must Come to an End
Within the last decade, the possibility to boot into Mac OS 9 ended with the introduction of the FireWire 800 Power Mac G4 (January 2003), followed by the first Aluminum PowerBooks (Sept. 2003). Mac OS X 0.5 Leopard axed Classic Mode altogether and eliminated all G3s (and technically all G4s under 867 MHz) from upgrading, although workarounds would quickly be discovered for AGP G4 desktops and 'Books under 867 MHz.
OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard ended operating system upgrades for all PowerPC machines, although it retained Rosetta for running legacy PowerPC applications. OS X 10.7 Lion continues the trend of putting slightly older Macs and Mac software on the shelf by shedding support for Rosetta, along with eliminating upgrades to a machine with anything less than a Core 2 Duo Intel processor.
Closing Arguments for Yay!
It's not personal; it's just evolution. It's obvious that technology changes rapidly, but the most important things for a company to understand is when and why something becomes obsolete. The answer to when something is deemed obsolete is easy. It simply boils down to the time when overcoming the shortfalls of existing software and hardware is possible, while delivering them at a cost comparable (with inflation) to the previous products when they launched.
Motorola DynaTAC 800X cell phone.
As for why technology become obsolete so fast, you can thank the manufacturer who is in business as a result of selling the software and hardware we purchase. When sales growth is projected to slow or flatline at market equilibrium, it's "out with the old, in with the new", which prompts an R&D development cycle for new technology to replace the existing technology in an effort to create future sales. In the end, it's truly a win-win for the consumer and manufacturer in most cases, since the new technology is usually designed to be an attractive purchase that will provide a significantly better experience with much more utility. It's a vicious cycle that we have always put up with, but if we didn't, we would still be playing Atari 2600 and mobile phones would be the size of cinder blocks.
What does this have to do with OS X Lion and the Post-PC Era?
Everything, of course! Technology has evolved to the point where mobile devices are becoming the dominant force behind the heavy consumption of mass media (video, gaming, music, etc.), social networking (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and communication in general (email, Skype, text, standard phone usage, etc.). With additional development, we may eventually see mobile devices replace our desktops and portables entirely.
That's what Steve Jobs is betting on, and this is probably an accurate vision for the future when the power of those devices can meet or exceed the power of traditional desktop and portable computers.
The iPad and iOS have proven that it is almost possible to replace your desktop and laptop.
We should thank Apple for having the vision to not just embrace these changes, but also for being the front-runner and innovator in these concepts. The iPad and iOS have proven that it is almost possible to replace your desktop and laptop. Pretty soon, that almost will disappear, becoming a reality. Lion is just a middle step towards a bright new future!
Yay for Lion and Post-PC!
Closing Arguments for No Way!
There's no fighting it, nor will the opinions of an outspoken minority change anything in this inevitable progression towards post-PC computing and heavy consumption versus heavy creation. It's just the way things are headed, regardless what your opinion may be.
As I type this article on my 12" 1.5 GHz PowerBook G4 - defying simple logic and refusing to move forward in the post-PC era (let alone Apple's Intel Era, which began 5-1/2 years ago) - I can say with great certainty that this is not a broken machine. It works just fine and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. As a low-end user myself, this PowerBook was a fraction of the cost of a new MacBook Pro, yet it can still do the heavy production work I need, along with light consumption.
As a gamer, I have come to the realization that modern gaming consoles are best suited for heavy consumption, while my Macs are best suited for creation. On my backwards-compatible PlayStation 3, I can watch YouTube, view Netflix, play games (PS1, PS2, PS3, PSN content), rent or purchase video, surf the Web, add on a media server (along with other components like a DVD player and my cable TV), and can control (and view) almost everything remotely via WiFi and a Sony LocationFree base station with my PSP. The upcoming PlayStation Vita will surely enhance the way the devices interact even more!
Most of that can also be done with an iOS device and the Mac, but is that a reason to change the Mac?
I get that Apple wants to have it all and obtain every one of their iOS consumers that don't even own a Mac right now, by releasing a "light and fluffy" version of OS X.
Apple, leave well enough alone. There are plenty of consumption devices out there. Don't turn the Mac into another one (let the current iOS devices continue to serve that purpose). Macs have always been about creation, and if I can't create the way I always have on a new Mac, I suppose I will be forced to use a Mac that predates Lion for the rest of my days and never purchase another new Mac again.
When those machines become too obsolete, I will have to find an alternative, because I can't stomach it! Just say No Way to Lion - two thumbs down to that abomination, the Post-PC Era!
All internal monologue aside from both pro-Lion and anti-Lion arguments, one thing is clear: Lion is not for everyone. It won't make a lot of sense to traditionalists like myself, who have used a Mac for a very long time as a heavy creation tool with a strong dependence on open-source development potential, but it will surely be a winner to recent iOS adopters.
I understand how much sense the changes initiated with Lion will make from a business perspective for Apple, which is a good thing for the company, but again, it's not for everyone. I can't help but feel alienated a bit after being a Mac user for so long and for appreciating how Apple has always focused on creativity with an edgy attitude. A Mac was always the "stick it to the man" computer, balking every Windows PC standard, while being different (and better) just because it could. Apple always trusted us to use their applications and operating systems responsibly and didn't put the kind of controls on it that it is now doing with the App Store.
I have no desire (or the capability) to utilize Lion and its integrated App Store. I don't want to give up my freedom to use the applications I purchase as I see fit.
Even if I had a Mac that could run Lion, I still would still steer clear. Besides the cutesy iOS theme, Lion and Apple move forward with only digital distribution of the OS and many other applications through the App Store, taking all of the control and trust away from us.
And with no Rosetta (aside from proposed virtualization), it sets up a world that not only takes away my ability to use my older software the way I could in Snow Leopard, it also eliminates the possibility to resell software I purchase from the App Store when I longer need it, since physical copies are gone.
The App Store is turning the Mac more into a client versus a machine that you have full control over, and I don't like it. Maybe I'm overly skeptical. I am aware that many of the iOS-themed features in Lion can be turned off, but there just seem to be too many negatives and not enough positives going for Lion. That's just my two cents as a longtime Mac user (since the 680x0 era).
The Silver Lining
To close, even though my thoughts are clear on Lion, I figured I would end with a positive note. The silver lining with Lion and another line of Macs that can't upgrade means another wave of low-end Macs! Earlier Intel Macs, especially Core Duo models that can't run Lion, are becoming increasingly low-end,* so at least you will be able to enjoy much more content than you could with a PowerPC Mac for much less, since Lion is leaving those early Intel behind.
I've already seen prices on 15" 2006 MacBook Pros in the $300 to $500 range. Expect that number to drop even more as Lion gains steam and as these early Intels flood the market when companies with fleets of Macs start dumping them to get the latest OS running. This price effect on used Core Duo Macs will likely have a ripple effect and drop the prices slightly on all Core 2 Duo Macs as well.
I look forward to upgrading to an Intel Mac myself within the next year or so. It will likely be an Early 2008 Hi-Res 1920 x 1200 Matte Screen 17" MacBook Pro, since it was the last portable to use the form factor of the Aluminum PowerBook, has a removable battery versus a built-in battery (another change I didn't care for), and a matte LCD panel (which is no longer available). It can also run Leopard, which I already have a copy of, and which also happens to be universal binary and will install on this Intel Mac just as easy as it does on my PowerPC Macs. These are all great features that are now gone, but they are present with this machine.
In addition, I could also run Snow Leopard and could add a partition for Lion just to use for more up-to-date web browsing, etc., giving me the best of all worlds! It also meets the specifications for the new Blu-ray player that is finally out for Mac OS X.
Too many positives and not enough negatives in this case. In addition, it's a used Mac that I can surely get for a fraction of the price of a new model.
That's the Low End Mac way!
Dan Bashur lives in central Ohio with his wife and children. He uses various PowerPC G3 and G4 Macs running Tiger and Leopard. Besides finding new uses for Macs and other tech, Dan enjoys writing (fantasy novel series in the works), is an avid gamer, and a member of Sony's Gamer Advisor Panel. You can read more of Dan Bashur's work on ProjectGamers.com, where he contributes regular articles about the PSP, classic gaming, and ways you can use Sony gaming hardware with your Mac.
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