Recycled Computing

The Mac Future: Snow Leopard, MobileMe, and the iPhone/iPod touch

- 2008.07.01

It's not like we didn't see this coming, but it was clear when Appleswitched to Intel chips that PowerPC Macs would end up left behind byfuture software development. Perhaps it came a little sooner than wemight have thought, but here it is.

If you use a Mac with a G3 processor, "Tiger" (Mac OS X 10.4)is the highest version of OS X that you can use, and not all G3 Macssupport Tiger. If you use a G4 or G5 processor, "Leopard" (OS X10.5) will be the highest version of OS X that you can use, and not allG4 Macs support Leopard.

And if the rumors are true, "Snow Leopard" (OS X 10.6) will only runon Intel Macs.

This isn't to say that somebody couldn't hack something somehow, butthe end is nigh for PowerPC Macs. The handwriting is on the wall. Thefortune cookies are crumbled and stale.

The Mac Advantage

Seriously, the biggest advantage of the Mac system is the matchingof Mac hardware and software. The reason that Windows has compatibilityissues is the huge number of software and hardware configurations thathave to be taken into consideration. It is perfectly normal for Appleto want to maintain its competitive advantage in this area. Time movesforward despite our nostalgia for the past.

However, Apple has left us two presents. Myeight-and-a-half-year-old Pismo can run Tiger just fine(what Windows laptop can boast that?), and Tiger is not chopped liver.It has a good choice of browsers, Mail, iTunes support (so far),iPhoto, etc. If I'm "stuck" with an operating system, Tiger is not tooshabby - and Leopard is not a bad consolation prize for G4 owners.


But if you watched the keynote address, Apple has something else inthe works.

I don't know if you noticed, but Apple kept mentioning howMobileMe's software offers features that are not available in "onlineapplications". For older PowerBooks and iBooks - and Windows and Linuxlaptops - this means that you can use Apple's online software for youremail, address book, and calendar. Of course, it will cost you asawbuck every 12 months.

But wait a minute, what if Apple starts offering other applicationsonline? Online versions of iWork or iLife? You could own a Windows PC,Linux, or whatever system and still have access to Apple software.

OS X To Go

Another tidbit is Apple's entry into portable gaming. Using theiPhone and iPod touch's accelerometer, Apple is turning these unitsinto portable gaming machines.

I have no experience with Nintendo's DS, but both of my sons ownSony's PSP. I don't play games, but I have used the PSP's browser -it's not so good. Compared to the built-in Safari on the iPod touch andiPhone, it bites.

Think about how Apple already has a built-in distribution systemthrough the iTunes Store, and watch how game interaction is handled by movingthe iPhone or iPod touch (a la the Wii).Apple can certainly makeinroads into the gaming industry as well as providing a feature thatit's competitors in the smart phone market cannot.

Cell phone? WiFi browser? Handheld computer? Portable game player?Portable music and video player?

Apple is set to not only create this market, but dominate it aswell. Just another reason to buy Apple stock.

And, at some point, an Intel-powered Mac. LEM

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