Apple Magic Trackpad: One Step To iOS on Macs Instead of OS X

Last Updated Jul 30, 2010 4:56 PM EDT

Apple (AAPL) announced a number of new products -- new iMac and Mac Pro models, a 27-inch "cinema" display, a battery charger, and the multi-touch Magic Trackpad -- by debuting them on the company's online store. The trackpad to me is the most interesting because of what it suggests about Apple's strategy and an apparent direction to move all their systems, including laptops and desktops, to iOS rather than Mac OS X.

A lot of people disagreed when I first wrote that in March, though Sascha Segan at had a similar thought, ironically, and unconnectedly, posting something the same day I did.

Since then, the thought has gone mainstream. Ars Technica found that a collection of Mac developers expected Apple to merge iOS and Mac OS X over time. Kate MacKenzie at Mac360 wrote that the concept of iOS supplanting Mac OS was not only possible, but "it's plausible, and probable." After all, Mac OS X replaced the Mac Classic OS. Apple has never been slow to pull the trigger on a product line when necessary. The benefits of newer and longer-lasting patent protection (because Apple does try to muscle competition with patent lawsuits or at least the threat of them) and a more unified code base would be tempting.

The Magic Trackpad is a first obvious step, bringing the MacBook Pro multi-touch interface to the Mac desktop through a Bluetooth connection (and a $69 dollar deduction from your bank account). Apple stresses that people can use one with a mouse. The argument might be for greater control, but I wonder how much of an issue that really is. At least one artist manages to create covers for the New Yorker with an iPhone. How much more precision would a mouse provide?

Get people used to a touch interface on the desktop, and shifting to iOS becomes easier. Don't want to reach out to the screen? I suspect we'll see Apple create a trackpad line that incorporates a small LCD screen, so you get even more feedback. Or people could just let their fingers wander the way they do with mice. It's not that different.

For those who want to try a Magic Trackpad, order online. I just called a store to check and was told that they should be in "shortly," but that there was no expected arrival date.


  • Erik Sherman On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.