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Will Your Next Operating System be More Like a Gated Community than a Wide Open Neighborhood?

Perhaps it already is if you own an iPod Tourch, iPhone or iPad.

A gated community is nice, that is why people of wealthy chose to live in them. It limits their exposure to threats from the outside world. This desire to be safe and simple has driven the iPhone's success. You can't just install any application on an iPhone. What you install needs to be Apple approved. Just like a gated community you can venture outside via the Internet, but overall you are much safer.

I think that Apple accidentally stumbled into this wonderful new customer benefit I'm referring to as a gated community. When they created the Apple app store I think their number one goal was control and control equals profit. At best customer protection was secondary. However, Apple quickly realized this was the justification they could tell software companies who were mad that they could not sell their software creations directly to Apple's customers. How could the software companies argue with Apple's wonderful "customer first" strategy?

True computer geeks like me dislike the constraints of a gated community like the iPhone. I'm comfortable dealing with the risks, of viruses and spyware that are aimed at Windows users. Why heck, it is even a bit of challenge for me to show those virus and malware writers that I'm better than they are. However, the average person just wants to use email the web etc. and not be bothered or challenged. Since viruses and malware can be extremely stealthy, perhaps I just think I'm winning the battle and even I would be better off in a gated community...

What does this mean for that big clunky desktop or tower PC sitting on, under or beside your desk? Or even that big, heavy old laptop you may be carrying around? I think that they still have a future until you can put enough computing power and storage into a tiny mobile device to allow users the same capability they had on their desktop that is a year or two old. In this context I'm excluding gamers from this world of users. They always want to push the envelope of what is possible visually and that may not fit in an iPhone form factor for some time to come. While it appears that mobile devices may be at the point of having the processing power, some are able to play 1080P video in real time, storage may still be an issue. These devices rely on cloud storage and people aren't ready to move all of their data to the cloud yet. Even if they were, people have a lot of data and it might be cost prohibitive. Another issue is user interface. While it is great to be able to interact with a computer and the Internet without a keyboard, mouse and dual monitors when you are out and about or in the living room, it is stifeling for power users like me who have grown accustom to a robust user interface.

Steve Jobs has commented that the era of the desktop PC will soon be over. Perhaps he or another company is missing an opportunity to create this type of computer gated community for desktops PC? Right now it seems like only Apple could pull this off. However with HP's recent acquisition of Palm, perhaps they could. Apple is taking the right approach if this is their plan they started with the smallest devices possible the iPhone and iPod touch. Now they've responded to market interest in having a larger screen and touch surface, with the shipment of the iPad. When the iPhone launched many pundits down played its chances of success but Apple made them eat their words. Some pundits continue to doubt Apples skill and think the iPad will fail. From initial sales results it looks like Apple has another hit product on its hands. So maybe a year from now an iLaptop or iPC could come out? By then will people be so happy with the experience on the iPhone and iPad that they will willing surrender the freedom to install any application they choose?

Will Andriod or HP via their Palm acquisition have a chance at this market space? Personally, I'm going to hold off on the iPad and perhaps give the HP tablet a try when it comes out. If I'm going to live in a gated computer community, I'd rather have it run by HP than Apple!

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