Where Is Apple Going in 2012?

Prediction and rumours have been a part of the Mac world for as long as I have: If it’s not about hardware revisions, then it’s about new devices or what the next version of the Mac operating system will bring.

2012 will be one of the most interesting years in the Mac world for a long time. In the wake of the death of Steve Jobs and the popularity of mobile/portable devices, how will Apple take the next 12 months?

Steve Jobs introduces the iMac

Steve Jobs introduces the iMac in May 1998.

Steve Jobs was not only on of Apple’s cofounders, but one of Apple’s best visionaries and the pioneer of some of Apple’s best product lines. After being ousted by John Sculley in the 90s, Jobs went off to develop NeXT Computer. Meanwhile, Apple slumped with too many product lines, too many failing projects, and was almost bankrupt. Jobs was brought back to save Apple, and that he did with the culling of multiple products and projects, as well as the launch of one of the most successful computers of all time, the iMac G3.

With the death of Steve Jobs, where does this leave Apple? Will it fall in to the same trap as before, or has Jobs left enough successful product lines and enough know-how to see through?

One of the big questions for the past few years, especially with Apple’s extremely successful divergence into the portable world, is the future of the Mac itself. Is Apple planning to ditch it or merge it into an iOS beast, with a unified operating system across all its devices? It does seem apparent that Apple is not paying as much attention to its Mac hardware as before, and with OS X 10.7 Lion being more iOS-like, it does seem possible.

Mac OS X 10.7 has not been as widely accepted as Apple wished for, due to its high system requirements and incompatibility with a huge back catalogue of software. Lion is often being referred to as the “Vista” of the Mac world,which I think is a little harsh. However with its aggressive upgrade strategy and the fact Apple only ship the latest OS with its current hardware and offers no downgrade option, Lion will soon become the Mac OS for most people – and that is forced computer evolution for you.

Apple has spent the last few years reshaping its business from solely a hardware/software company to global leaders in phone, tablet, and music devices with a sideline in Macs and OS X. The priority seems to have shifted from trying to replace the Windows world to taking over the portable world.

Could 2012 see Apple ditch the Mac Pro, rejig the Mac mini as a TV Internet/media device, and release budget iPads and iPhones to capture the lower end of the market?

Could 2012 see Apple return to licensing Mac OS X to non-Apple hardware, or will Lion be the last version of OS X as we know it, with OS X 10.8 emerging as a desktop version of iOS?

I am unsure. Apple doesn’t do budget devices; I think 2012 will see Apple slim out its hardware for further refinement in future years. I think we will see a few more versions of OS X branded as OS X before they shift to iOS as a desktop operating system. Apple never rushes anything. I think we will see 10.8 and 10.9, and then it will become iOS 10.

The idea of the Mac mini becoming a TV Internet/media Mac is interesting and could be an avenue for entry Mac.

Time will tell; perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps Apple will shock us all and release a whole new army of hardware.

Or here is an interesting twist. With PC sales in decline and Microsoft struggling to hold on to its share, perhaps the two will combine to create a new OS with Microsoft’s marketing and the ability to handle millions of hardware combinations and Apple’s high quality and attention to detail. A new super power could be born, but that is further ahead than the next 12 months, if at all.

Whatever happens, 2012 will an interesting time for Apple fans.

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