Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Minus Apple.

What if, instead of bringing Apple back from the brink in 1996, something different had happened? Bringing Steve Jobs back too late, or any of a number of other choices and Apple failed back in the late 1990s.

What would have happened?  Sorry Microsoft, "Windows or Nothing" really dead-ended your technological progress.  You'd had the ideas, but 10 years of shoehorning Windows onto tablet and phone type devices hadn't worked as well as Apple did it on their first try*.

Even being shown the way with the iPad and iPhone, and having a Metro UI that (to me) seems best designed for Tablets out of all devices, you still couldn't make Surface work.  Nobody at the top could tell the Office team to "make Office work on this tablet, damn it"?  Office makes money, but isn't exciting** so doesn't sell tablets to people at home.

No Apple means no iPod, no iPhone, no iPad.  We'd have nice tiny little cell phones that lasted a month on a charge.  That seems like what cell phone companies were competing on before the iPhone--size and battery life; but like the older ones with a tiny screen and hardware keyboard or number pad.

Could anyone else gotten something like iTunes launched--and been friendly to people with 99¢ songs?

Tablets would have stayed as weird niche devices that ran bastard versions of Windows.

No Macbook Air and we'd be stuck with monstrous yet plastic and flimsy laptops.

Who could have developed those without Apple to show the way?

I'd bet that the company to finally pull things off would have been Amazon.  The first Kindle came out in late 2007 so must have been in development before the iPhone was announced in early 2007.  Amazon started selling books, so an e-reader device made sense.

For them, moving to something like the Kindle Fire type tablet that did books as well as video would be the next step.  (Though without Apple it might have had a decent size screen with a hardware keyboard under it like the first few versions of the Kindle did.  Looking back, the design of the first Kindle was crazy and weird.)

We'd have gotten tablets, but even more oriented as entertainment consumption.  Would there have been apps?

Thankfully, Apple didn't die.


* Apple surely had 100s of tries too, but all internal things that nobody else saw.  

** Lots of money, so far.  But that won't last.  People use Office because they have to for work.  I'm sure the new versions are a bit more advanced than the nearly 20 year old(!) versions for Windows 95.  But they do the same thing.  Most people would still be happy with that years old version.  I've been happy with Google Docs for the few times a year I needed printed documents, but the new iCloud ones look great so I've been using them too.

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