Apple no longer innovates, what if…?

 …YES, it DOES. Via @gassee “Marzipan: The False Mac iPad Dilemma Resolved

When Marzipan is released, iOS developers will automatically be Mac coders (at least in theory; what remains to be seen is the speed of Marzipan adoption).

We have our skeptics, of course, and they have a valid point as they remind us of the vast amount of time, money, and reputation that other companies have wasted on previous WORA (Write Once Run Anywhere) campaigns. But the doubters overlook the advantages of Apple’s carefully tended Walled Garden. Past WORA adventures foundered because the hardware targets suddenly changed their behavior, thus defeating existing code translations.

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But indulge me in a fantasy.

After months of rumors, Tim Cook walks onto the stage at the Steve Jobs theater and Finally™ introduces a new line of Mac laptops powered by Apple-designed A96 processors. The chips use the same instruction set as the A13 Trionic CPU/GPU that powers the latest iPhones and iPads. The new laptops run on a version of MacOS that’s been ported to (translated for) the A96 architecture.

Cook points out that these aren’t processors in the classical sense, they’re SOCs (Systems On a Chip) that can incorporate features such GPUs (Graphic Processing Unit) and Neural Engines. “Not only is there a significant cost advantage in moving to our homegrown processors, a Mac isn’t limited by the thermal and battery consideration of an iPhone and so can run at a higher clock frequency than the 2.49GHz of its smaller sibling.”

Cook doesn’t mention it, but the implication is clear: The Ax architecture will eventually be extended into high end Mac Pro devices. As a result, the recently announced modular MacPro will offer both x86 and Ax modules, depending on the use of newer or older MacOS high-end apps.

Craig Federighi then takes the stage and announces Marzipan 1.0, available today. “Creating a universal app that runs on Macs old and new, iPads and iPhones has been a challenging software endeavor fraught with conceptual and implementation pitfalls,” he says, “But with our firm control of hardware, it’s a challenge that Apple is uniquely suited to tackle.

Will there be a “One more thing…” moment? Are we going to see a touch screen on the Mac and a trackpad on the iPad? Or maybe a gryphon, half Mac, half iPad?

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Cook leaves us with two Apple machines with the same processor. The Mac laptop has an attached keyboard and trackpad, the iPad sports a touch screen. No cross-pollination, no hybrid.

The Mac and the iPad incarnate two different personal computing philosophies.

This UI purity and (relative) simplicity has come with a price: Two different software collections, two different App Stores. Marzipan changes that.

Does this thought experiment sound too good? Apple’s move to ARM-architecture processors on the Mac, to cousins of the fast devices used on iPhones and iPads is inevitable and, just on the hardware side, relatively simple. We just don’t know the date.