Apple execs talk Mac’s 30th anniversary, future of OS X and iOS, and more

Steve Jobs (Mac 001)

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the unveiling of the original Macintosh, which happens to be tomorrow, Macworld has published a lengthy interview with three Apple executives to discuss a wide range of topics regarding the popular computer.

In the discussion, Apple’s SVP of Marketing Phil Schiller, SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi, and VP of Software Technology Bud Tribble talk about where the Mac has been, and where it’s going. And as usual, we’ve posted some highlights…

Below are some notable excerpts from Macworld’s interview with Schiller, Federighi and Tribble.

On the idea that the Mac is on its way out, or is becoming increasingly irrelevant to Apple’s business:

“The thing that has turbocharged the Mac has been the advent of the iPhone and the iPad,” Tribble said. According to Tribble, having Apple’s hardware and software teams work on the company’s new mobile products has dramatically reinvigorated Mac development. “That cross-pollination of ideas, the fact that the [Mac and iOS] teams are the same team, has propelled the Mac further than I had hoped for.”

“The experience we’re trying to create for people, that hasn’t changed,” Schiller said. “The cool thing we’re in the middle of right now is, we exist in both spaces. And I think, if you look at what we’ve done with multitouch gestures on the Mac trackpad, how to make that work in an environment like the personal computer while we’re also exploring those experiences on everything from the iPod touch to the iPad … it’s so cool.”

On the notion that Apple will inevitably merge Mac OS and iOS into one single interface for all its devices:

“We don’t waste time thinking, ‘But it should be one [interface!]’ How do you make these [operating systems] merge together?’ What a waste of energy that would be,” Schiller said. But he added that the company definitely tries to smooth out bumps in the road that make it difficult for its customers to switch between a Mac and an iOS device. For example, making sure its messaging and calendaring apps have the same name on both OS X and iOS.

“To say [OS X and iOS] should be the same, independent of their purpose? Let’s just converge, for the sake of convergence? [It’s] absolutely a non-goal,” Federighi said. “You don’t want to say the Mac became less good at being a Mac because someone tried to turn it into iOS. At the same time, you don’t want to feel like iOS was designed by [one] company and Mac was designed by [a different] company, and they’re different for reasons of lack of common vision. We have a common sense of aesthetics, a common set of principles that drive us, and we’re building the best products we can for their unique purposes. So you’ll see them be the same where that makes sense, and you’ll see them be different in those things that are critical to their essence.”

And on the Surface-style approach Microsoft and others are taking, combining a laptop and tablet in one device:

“The reason OS X has a different interface than iOS isn’t because one came after the other or because this one’s old and this one’s new,” Federighi said. Instead, it’s because using a mouse and keyboard just isn’t the same as tapping with your finger. “This device,” Federighi said, pointing at a MacBook Air screen, “has been honed over 30 years to be optimal” for keyboards and mice. Schiller and Federighi both made clear that Apple believes that competitors who try to attach a touchscreen onto a PC or a clamshell keyboard onto a tablet are barking up the wrong tree.

“It’s obvious and easy enough to slap a touchscreen on a piece of hardware, but is that a good experience?” Federighi said. “We believe, no.”

The whole article, which was written by Macworld’s Jason Snell, is really worth reading, as is Snell’s interview with Steve Jobs from 10 years ago on the Mac’s 20th anniversary. It’s always interesting to hear these guys speak on their areas of expertise.