One step forward – two steps back.
As reported by AppleInsider, Apple’s iPhone 2.0 software enables secure erasure of your personal data, however, it also moves Apple away from iSync compatibility and into their own little cloud of interoperability.
Back when Palm dominated the PDA world, and Apple had zero inkling of their own phone hardware, they got the bright idea to make hooks in the software to sync phone numbers, addresses, calendars, notes and more between Apple computers (remember those?) and phones and PDAs from other companies.
This is reminiscent of the first iTunes— there was no iPod when Apple released iTunes 1.0. Thusly, iTunes worked with any MP3 player. That helped it be a big hit- it made using and managing your music easy, no matter what player you had. Once the iPod hit the market, Apple decided that it didn’t need to bother facilitating anything but its own player. While the iPod took off like a rocket, everyone who was using iTunes to work with any other player was now orphaned.
Now this new MobileMe service is just that – a PAID service. iSync was built into the OS and worked via bluetooth to sync a cell phone with Apple’s apps. Apple occasionally updated the iSync compatibility list with new hardware (far slower than new handsets were introduced) and you could check that list before you bought a new phone to ensure it was compatible.
Unlike the hundreds of phones on the iSync compatibility list, Apple’s own iPhone can’t sync with the computer wirelessly- but it can access the internet wirelessly. So Apple turned their .Mac service into the hub of their new wireless syncing strategy.
What does this mean for computer—cell phone syncing?
Well, if iTunes is any indication, now that Apple has their own phone, and a new system that requires users to pay to sync their hardware devices together– you can kiss Apple’s efforts on 3rd party interoperability goodbye.
Sure, the 2.0 software is a step forward in capability and security, but Apple is clearly repeating prior policies by supporting only their own hardware when that hardware becomes available.
It’s a sad development for Mac users who can only sit and watch as Apple, Inc. continues to move their technologies and business in the direction of their name change: i.e. dropping Macintosh from the formerly lofty position as the technology leader and innovator. It’s now just one of the many things Apple, Inc. does, and, honestly, they haven’t been doing much with it the past few years as they pull resources away from the computer side to work on other consumer electronics products.
Back in 2000, Apple touted their computers as “the digital hub.” Lately, though, the computing part of their product line looks like the forgotten child. Case in point- their “Pro,” 1″ thin, silver slab of a laptop was also introduced in 2000, and has seen little design change since. The MacBook Air I would classify as an example of design over substance- a clear departure from Apple’s intent to have more substance under the hood to justify their higher costs.
Apple’s computers now uses the same chips as almost every PC out there, and independent companies like Psystar and the OSx86 project have enabled the Mac-tel OS to run on PC hardware in configurations that Apple simply does not offer, or at price points that Apple does not offer. They have long been encroaching on Apple’s hardware turf and Apple has done nothing to stop them. Why bother if the computers aren’t really the point any more?
For Mac users who use other PDA / phone hardware, they will likely be forced to rely on 3rd party software to become the glue that enables their mac to continue to be as useful as it once was. Mark-Space is just one such company who offers software packages to enable data synchronizing for products Apple does not support. Apple’s cessation of innovation here is a boon for them as it hands them thousands of new customers.
I, for one, think that other companies do phones far better than Apple. Other companies do the HTPC better than Apple, and they do media players better than Apple. It’s nice to see Apple wiggle their toe in the consumer electronics waters, but they are certainly no Nokia, Sony or Panasonic. There may come a day when Apple becomes just another struggling consumer electronics company like JVC or Kenwood, and they look back and see this time as when they lost focus of what made them strong in the first place.