What is the future of personal computing? Apple reveals it to us at WWDC’11

Once the post-keynote hangover is over, and after seeing things with a little more calm and perspective, I would like to share with you some personal reflections. If my colleague Pedro Aznar commented recently that the points are connected backwards, I think that with the information we have we can get a glimpse of how the strategy Apple is designing looks like. You only have to read a little between the lines about what was presented in the keynote to see that the future is there and that it is the way to go , a way that I dare say is not only going to be taken by the company of the apple but also by many other companies that are going to follow.

The truth is that, as curious as some of the improvements presented in terms of the user interface of both Lion and iOS are, the most striking thing is the rapprochement between the two operating systems. The approach ranges from the anecdotal, such as the fact that the Mac operating system is no longer called Mac, but OS X, to the efforts to develop an interface with full-screen applications without scrollbars and with multi-touch gestures. In short, Apple is bringing the lines so close that it would not be unreasonable to think of a single operating system in the medium term.

What is the future of personal computing? Apple reveals it to us at WWDC’11
What is the future of personal computing? Apple reveals it to us at WWDC’11

Another hint for the future that was already in sight is that the distribution of all applications will be by downloading from the Internet. No more having to buy the software, even if it is the operating system, in physical format. Apple saves “some money”, improves its ecological image, promotes and encourages the purchase of products in its online store (there are still Apple users who have never bought anything online, believe it or not) and gains physical space in its stores for hardware. The reduction in price for the end user means an increase in profits thanks to the reduction in piracy, and everyone is so happy.

Let’s go with iOS now. Remember what Wozniak said about the iPad being the computer for everyone? I couldn’t agree more now. We no longer depend on the “tyranny” of having to come home with our new iOS device and having to plug it into a computer to breathe life into it, register it, and start messing around with it. We are now free to sync our devices without connecting them to anything whenever we want, and also to sync them with each other, both with purchases from the App Store, and with the music we have ripped. The latter with a price, but that doesn’t seem too expensive for what it offers. The independence of iOS devices means reaching more market share, including people who do not have a computer. Rather than calling it the post-PC era, I would call it the consumer computer era.

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And here I believe that one of Apple’s main bets is to further expand its market share in Tablets, iPod Touch and iPhone. Some time ago I was telling you about the possibility of my mother using the iPad to see if she was able to get familiar with it at her 84 years of age and without having touched a computer in her life. Well, every time I go into her house she asks me for the iPad and she starts looking at things on the internet, taking walks on Google Maps and looking at photos and so on. The first time he used it he said “I don’t know how much it cost you, but it’s worth every euro invested”. That’s a lot to say about a person who has never been interested in gadgets and even less in computers.

But we can go even further. If a non-“computer literate” person receives or buys a device with iOS, they have the possibility from iOS 5 to have the contents synchronized with other devices. View family photos, chat via Facetime, read the newspaper or magazines they are interested in, etc. Even that person does not have to worry about downloading or having content downloaded to them, all that can be received transparently.

Let’s see some more clues. Apple TV has always been for the company of the apple as a diversion. It has been until now. Because wireless integration of content from an iOS device like the iPad brings the Apple device to life. Games, TV screen sharing, video calling, presentations, and more are sure to boost sales, and Apple is taking an important step forward in the digital home. Other blogs are echoing that things that the Wii U announces as new can already be achieved today.

And now comes the chronicle of MobileMe’s announced death. It doesn’t make sense to have a paid service when there are equally good and free services for the most part. Apple learns the lesson of its “buddy not friend” Google and finally kills MobileMe, replacing it with a free service for iOS users that makes much more sense and has a brighter future.

I’ve saved the most important thing for last. The data in the cloud. Until recently I thought about buying a network drive, a NAS, so I could access my content from anywhere. Today it’s pretty meaningless and I’ll wait to see how iCloud works. Positioning all our information in the cloud has a great added value for the end user. What happens is that it has to be done for all users, and if there is a company that is able to do it and do it well, that is Apple.

The bet is clear. I think that in a few keynotes Apple has given so many clues as to what the future of personal computing is going to be like. And the future doesn’t look bad.

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