I remember a comment I read once concerning a question put to Steve Jobs along the lines of, “If you could release the Mac today, would you do anything differently?”
His answer was along the lines of, “I wouldn’t let anyone write software for it.”
I think his reasoning behind this statement, is the perennial problem that plagues computers: the fact that they are computers.
Anybody with minimal training can come along a write any software they like and release it into the wild. Users can then install it onto their computer and off they go.
This central premise lies at the heart of what a computer is – it runs software, both good and bad.
Coming back to Steve’s comment, even he couldn’t create a time machine and actually do this, but he could (and I think he’s trying and succeeding) to certainly do the next best thing.
Namely, anyone who wants to write software, must have that software approved – by Apple.
This is the current model of the iPhone and iPod Touch. Whether you agree that it’s a good thing or a bad thing, any software that runs on these devices is controlled by Apple. They could even delete it remotely if they wanted to.
Now think of the upcoming tablet.
The current consensus is 7″-10″, that probably runs a variant of the TouchOS, and iWork is installed by default – this means that this is a serious content creation device, not a passive device that you listen to music and watch movies on.
But that means it also runs the AppStore. Which means that the software distribution model is the same – any software is controlled by Apple.
Now speculate – 5 years from now, we will have bigger tablets that run some seriously meaty software (I’m thinking Adobe apps here), and we will still have the same software distribution model.
A device that will, sooner or later replace the mouse-driven desktop, with all application development controlled by Apple.
Software that’s even more reliable than what we have now, with no viruses, spyware or malware, and even if they could be written, there would be no way for those things to even get onto your tablet.
What Steve Jobs is attempting to do with the iPhone, iPod Touch and by extension the range of tablets that they will sooner or later have, is redefine an industry.
Computers and everything that they have ever meant, will be consigned to the history books – and good riddance to them.