Speculation on the future of Apple’s product lines.

I’m not the first one to say this: it seems logical that Apple will eventually end-of-life the Macintosh. Erik Sherman does a deep dive here that outlines the logic for de-emphasizing the Macintosh and eventually turning it off. And Dan Lyons (AKA Fake Steve Jobs) does a comic job on the topic here.

What’s really interesting is to think through what this means for the future of the iComputers: iPhone, iTouch, iPad, and whatever else Apple might introduce. Here’s a preview of the iTV Apple will introduce in 2015: That’s actually a Samsung 54-inch LED television, but can you imagine what Apple might do once it can produce a screen that big?

Apart from a new line of televisions, it seems significant that Apple is generating a third of its current revenue (about $12B a year and growing, but not as fast or as big as the iPhone) selling a keyboard-based computer – the Macintosh. The multi-touch interface is fascinating, but I’m typing this post on a Macintosh. Multi-touch opens up whole new areas for application development, which is why people are fascinated by the iPad (and why Apple has already sold more than 3M of the devices). My most fun finger app in the last few days is SplashColor on the iPhone.

But, for productivity and production, you need a keyboard. Wouldn’t it make sense then for Apple to design a keyboard-based computer that uses iOS as its operating system instead of OS X? (Fascinating tidbit: I just selected the menu item on every Macintosh computer called “Mac OS X Software…” and it took me to http://www.apple.com/downloads/, which highlights iOS 4 and iTunes 10 but does not have a single link to Mac OS X!) And when they design that computer, Apple will have to finish iOS with a file system and networking that will allow users access to the network that does not require that everything coming into the computer goes through iTunes. In fact, one might imagine that Steve Jobs’ fascination with HTML 5 is actually his solution to that problem, to provide file and network access through the browser. That would be the ultimate insult to Microsoft, to turn everything that Microsoft is built on into a feature of the browser!

Just thinking out loud…

Stewart Alsop authored this post.