What do all these have in common: Optical drives, Google Maps, ethernet ports, hard disk drives, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs, dictation software, Growl, car navigation systems, Tango and other video chat applications, anti-virus software for Mac?
The answer, according to Business Insider, is that they are all products or systems that Apple has set out to kill. The conclusion followed Tuesday’s keynote when Apple further consolidated its vision of the future.
Apple is now a world-leading company, particularly in mobile computing, and decisions taken at Cupertino have far-reaching implications for the entire industry. Gone are the days when Apple products occupied a niche market and were largely irrelevant to the industry at large.
The built-in optical drive started to lose its dominance with the introduction of the first MacBook Air; now Apple has announced a MacBook Pro with no optical drive and, surely, the rest of the range will follow. We should remember that Apple was the first computer company to dispense with the 3.5in floppy drive amid howls of protest.
The mechanical hard drive has already been banished from the Airs, and now from the 15in retina MacBook Pro. It will disappear from the entire Mac notebook line within twelve months. And these days, where Apple leads the rest of the industry follows. Solid state drives are much faster, run cooler and are simply better and more reliable.
Apple’s introduction of its own-brand mapping service with turn-by-turn navigation will put two big noses out of joint. Google, for starters, will lose a big chunk of customers for Google Maps. Second, the dedicated in-car navigator will become irrelevant now that an iPhone (or even an iPad) can do the job better, with more up-to-date information and live traffic information. TomTom has pulled a neat trick by becoming involved at a time when its dedicated unit sales are falling.
I am less convinced, though, that my beloved Dropbox and Evernote should be on the list of expected casualties. According to Business Insider, iCloud will beat Dropbox because it syncs seamlessly and has no addressable file system. Yet many users fret about this and like a little more control. Personally, I find iCloud document sync a bit of a loose canon. Dropbox will continue to offer a vital service for users who prefer to be involved in deciding where their data is stored.
As for Evernote, well it is plain wrong to suggest that Apple’s Notes app can replace the power of Evernote. No doubt many users will require nothing more than Notes and this could cream off some of the low-power users from Evernote. But as a means of storing and cataloguing a wide variety of notes, web clippings, photographs and PDF files, Evernote and similar products will still have a place.
Apple organisational tools
That said, for many iPhone, iPad and less-involved Mac users, the Apple ecosystem with iCloud, Contacts, Calendars, Notes and Reminders does now offer a seamless organisational solution. But I believe there will still be a market out there for powerful applications such as Evernote, Dropbox, and OmniFocus. After whetting their appetite with Apple’s one-size-fits-all solutions, good as they are, many users will want to go one step further and seek more powerful tools.
No kill, just logical progress
The Business Insider story is a good angle. I don’t think, however, that Apple is deliberately setting out to kill other systems (with the possible exception of Google Maps). Rather, Apple is again ahead of the game and is making the changes that the rest of the industry isn’t brave enough to do without a good boot up the backside.
Mechanical hard drives are clearly on the way out; optical drives are already irrelevant; and there is no longer a need for dedicated Ethernet ports when a Thunderbolt port can do all that’s necessary, if with a few adaptors. The rest of the industry will undoubtedly follow Apple’s lead.