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The Apple landscape is inexorably changing

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Sometimes Steve Jobs was a glowing genius on the horizon of tech, a polarising and unavoidable figure. OK, that should be 'often' or even 'mostly' rather than 'sometimes'.
But sometimes he was just an intransigent crank.

He famously had a new beige developed for the case of the first Mac. Who cared? Only his pained staff. Who noticed? Nobody. There were already 25 official and boring shades of beige to choose from.

Jobs has been declared by some as the 'entrepreneur of all time'. (Not by me, before you start. Jobs may have been brilliant, effective, successful ... sure. But I'd judge more on the terms of what's been done for humanity, myself.) But Fortune magazine has different criteria.

But Steve is no longer. Apple CEO Tim Cook can make his mark, and he's doing so emphatically. He's already approved designs Jobs reportedly hated, at least in the case of the interface for the new Apple TV: an interesting tweet by former Apple TV engineer Michael Margolis claims that these Apple TV interface designs were "tossed out five years ago because [Steve Jobs] didn't like them."

This 'updated' (backdated?) interface for the set-top box has icon-based category buttons and large billboard-style artwork underneath for content. (The interface is also available to previous 2nd Generation Apple TV owners as a software update.)

Cook has gone on to visit China, which Jobs never did, preferring not to be confronted with harsh realities, perhaps, or just fundamentally unconcerned or whatever. You judge.

Meanwhile, as I've noted before, Cook instated Apple-supported contributions to charities, and even reinstated a dividend payout for the first time in 17 years.

Meanwhile, the company continues to innovate. And as usual, once Apple announced something truly groundbreaking, the detractors worked themselves up.

OK, everyone: Apple did not invent 'the cloud'. Nobody ever said Apple did, actually. Apple may have messed with the known universe, sure: the galaxy that Apple ended up using for the default (forthcoming) OS 'Mountain Lion' wallpaper is the spiral galaxy NGC 3190 in the Leo constellation. The image of the galaxy Apple used was a NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Except Apple removed several galaxies and added a number of stars to the vicinity of the NGC 3190 galaxy in Mountain Lion.

It's a beautiful image, but as usual, Apple applied a creative filter to the vast splendour of the universe, applying an ethereal blue light to the galaxy and Photoshopping out several other galaxies, while adding in a number of stars that don't actually exist. Yes, my friends, Apple's universe is 'better'.

Anyway, back to the cloud: like most things Apple chose to roll out, the Inc just made the cloud concept a usable phenomenon. As in, once you set it up, that's it, everything 'just works'. Mostly. As per Apple's time worn phrase.

There's quite a lot of value in 'usable, as Apple has proved innumerable times.
So what's my point? Just watch while everyone else joins in, moving to digital download models, and deployment and support structures like the iOS App Store and the Mac App Store. They make software, resources and updates available, and let you know and/or install things you need in the background.

The app creation model in itself is pretty lean - things become available before they may be 100 per cent ready, but they're cheap, updates are fast, often free and any feedback is used directly back into the development cycle, like in the tried and true stratagem of web developers.

iOS 5x that introduced the cloud and unified iDevices to Lion has enjoyed great success. The latest version is 5.1, and its adoption rate is stellar (to stick with space analogies).
With the launch of iOS 5.1 on March 7th, 2012, iOS developer David Smith has been tracking the adoption rate. He suspected it would be faster than in the past due to the availability of over-the-air (OTA) iOS updates.

Indeed, after only five days after its initial release, Smith found that 50 per cent of his OTA-eligible customers were already at iOS 5.1. Now, after 15 days, he's found that 77 per cent of OTA-eligible iOS customers have upgraded to the latest version.

And talking about old space analogies, how about that old space warrior Flash? Relegated to online games. A sound policy. Even Adobe thinks so.
And how about that tablet? It's got an utterly lacklustre name, officially 'the new iPad'. Yawn. But that's probably the only boring thing about it, at least if sales are anything to go by.

A week after the launch of the new iPad, the device now accounts for about 1 in 15 Apple tablets accessing the internet, according to Computerworld from data gleaned by a mobile ad network.

Chitika regularly mines data from its ad-serving network for device and browser usage patterns. Over 24 hours the new iPad generated 6.6 per cent of all iPad traffic that goes through the company's systems.

Apple's first-generation tablet and 2011's iPad 2 were responsible for the remaining 93.4 per cent. The new iPad's part of the Apple tablet pie has been slowly increasing since the device's debut March 16 .

The new iPad sold three million units on its launch weekend. That means Apple sold more new iPads in just one weekend than a quarter of all the Android tablets sold in the world, ever. The parity in the total number of iPads vs Android tablets is growing still wider.

If Apple sells 12 million iPads this year, the device will become larger than the entire PC market...

But you may still be an iPad (and/or general Apple) hater. Good for you. That doesn't mean King Canute is trying to hold back the tide. Like him, most clever companies know better.

Mark my words: over the coming months, new software will embrace iDevices in new ways - not just to access their products and content, but as platforms to design content for the iOS behemoth.

It's going to be a great year for Apple.

- Mark Webster mac-nz.com

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