There are few people who get to be classified as true innovators – among them Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers. Steve Jobs has earned his place with these great agents of change. From the initial release of the Apple II, Jobs’ vision has changed the way we look at and interact with all of our technology.
How we use our computing devices
Over the 35 years of its existence, Apple has developed products that have always been focused on us, the users. In 1977, Apple released its first desktop computer, the Apple II. With its graphical user interface (GUI) and the standard use of a mouse to control user input, Apple simplified the end user experience. Initially marketed for business use, the Apple II slowly became the computer that people bought to work at home.
Apple’s race for desktop dominance fizzled out in the 1980s when IBM helped launch a market for the x86 platform. But Apple’s design of the portable computer drove the design for most of today’s laptop computers and changed the way people work.
How we listen to and watch media content
Apple’s release of the iPod was arguably the most important bridge of technology and consumerization, bringing together personal music consumption, software, and online services. Since the introduction of the Sony Walkman, no other technology has so dramatically changed the way we consume media content. The iPod was the stake in the heart of broadcast radio, and in some respects the music industry, allowing consumers to pick and choose what they wanted to listen to and when they wanted to listen to it, without commercials.
The on-demand aspect of iTunes has changed consumer expectations regarding media. No longer bound by program managers’ ideas of what they want to see and listen to, consumers have embraced other Internet-based products and services focused on providing highly personalized content.
How we use our applications
Windows may have the greatest inventory of applications available, but getting them deployed, updated and managed has been the bane of existence for most users. Application virtualization enables greater management and separation from the operating system, but as we have all seen, it’s not always clean and it’s only for the enterprise.
The ability to grab an app from a list and have it dropped on the desktop (or device) and just work is the greatest innovative step in the way we view applications. The success of the AppStore concept is now how people want to get their apps and how corporations want to deploy them. All of the mobile device players now have a store and Microsoft’s developing Marketplace will quickly become the new standard for application deployment on the Windows platform.
This model is a driving force of change in application development and deployment. It has achieved isolation from the underlying operating system which is where today’s application virtualization is still struggling. Tens of thousands of applications are currently available on the Apple AppStore, and an increasing number of business applications are being developed for the iPad platform. Application and desktop virtualization with remote presentation (Citrix ICA, RDP, PCoIP) is going to be even more critical to get legacy applications to work on these platforms. We should expect to see better integration from the presentation technologies to give the user a seamless user experience.
We have said that the iPad has been driving change within the enterprise on what the end user computing device looks like, and how it has been the number one catalyst for desktop virtualization initiatives. The visionary approach of Steve Jobs and Apple has blurred the lines between corporate and personal computing, while at the same time making it easier and more fun to work. Ten years ago, IT drove how people used corporate computing devices; today it’s us, the user, driving IT.