I have to admit I was rather charmed watching a demo of Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablet. I bounce back and forth between my iPad and MacBook Pro quite often during the day, so merging the two into a single device looked appealing. After a few minutes daydreaming about the unification of iOS and OSX, it struck me that I don’t want an El Camino.
My wife, Liz, and I share a 2001 Honda Accord for a reason—it’s an incredibly practical vehicle that handles 99% of our transportation needs. Every once in a while we need a truck to haul a large piece of furniture, or handle some other cargo that just wont fit in our Accord. Fortunately, we have quite a few friends who own trucks we can borrow, but even if we didn’t, renting a truck once in a while is significantly more cost effective than buying a truck just to have one around. And buying an El Camino would be absurd. It compromises the functionality of each vehicle class such that it would be completely impractical for us.
Liz and I also happen to share my MacBook Pro. It’s the only non-iOS computing device in our home. Sharing the computer was a minor source of contention until recently when I bought Liz a keyboard for her iPad. She still uses my computer on occasion, but it’s mostly for things like buying plane tickets or ordering flowers, which should be much easier on iOS.
Some people still have a hard time believing this, but I have no doubt that the future of computing—especially casual computing—is iOS, not OSX. And I’m starting to doubt the viability or necessity of a hybrid. The car vs. truck analogy will become less applicable over time. iOS isn’t bound by physicality as is a car. Through speech-to-text, gestures, software innovation, and even hardware accessories, Apple can empower more and more iOS users to make a complete break from OSX. And iCloud is a big step in that direction.
Microsoft’s El Camino approach to computing may ultimately be saved by Moore’s Law if hardware can catch up fast enough to adequately and cost effectively run the behemoth they’re building. But Apple already has an 18 month head start on the future of computing and Windows 8 wont launch until Fall 2012 at the earliest. While the hybrid approach looks attractive today, it will look less and less attractive over time, and will likely look like a complete kludge by the time Microsoft is able to ship it.