One of Apple’s big selling points of OS X is its applications. These applications are targeted at filling the need of people to manage their content in as easy a way as possible. Here’s a list of applications found either in the default dock because I will be coming back to these apps in a moment: Safari, Mail, iChat, Address Book, iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iCal, QuickTime.
Completely shifting gears, let’s look at some of the best things on the web right now. Four sites that I can’t live without are Bloglines, del.icio.us, Upcoming and LiveJournal. Google too of course, but I haven’t figured out how to work that into my thesis, so I’m going to pretend that I could go a day without it.
The common theme of these sites is to provide a collaborative space for people to connect and share. What struck me was the intersection of these social sites and Apple’s product line. iCal flows perfectly into Upcoming. Safari’s bookmarks are distributed by del.icio.us. And what are Bloglines and LiveJournal but inboxs for other peoples’
email to everyone? Now you see where I’m going with this.
The Apple programs provide a good guide for what collaborative, social programs work well. Let’s go through that list of programs again:
- Safari – del.icio.us provides a good service backend for a collaborative Safari.
- Mail – Aside from being implicitly social, Mail has some parallels with RSS. Bloglines is just the tip of the iceberg. With something like rss2email or Info Aggregator you can have RSS feeds delivered to your inbox.
- iChat – This already is social software, although it would be nice if it was easier to explore your social network.
- Address Book – Sites like Friendster, Orkut, Tribe.net etc. are examples of how a collaborative address book could work.
- iTunes – With it’s music sharing feature, it’s a pretty good piece of social software as is. Then sites like MusicMobs, Audioscrobbler and *cough* SongBuddy come along and allow you to share your music preferences with anyone on the Intarweb.
- iPhoto – Flickr provides a way to share your photos with your friends, although I don’t know of any direct hooks into iPhoto
- iCal – The aforementioned Upcoming (with some temporary help from me) works with iCal, and Meetup.com could be tweaked to do the same.
It’s surprising how well Apple’s product line matches up with collaborative sites. There’s a line of thought that says that Apple creates software for people who create, while Microsoft for people who consume. This could have something to do with it; because social software requires a two way Internet they and Apple would migrate to the things people create.
Where could Apple go with this? iMovie is conspicuously absent, most likely due to bandwidth concerns. Of course you should never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of dvds, but there’s still a latency problem.
What would be nice is if Apple could somehow unify social presence under an open protocol. The same platform that lets me IM would also let me check out someone’s public calendar and read their weblog. Dashboard provides a glimpse of how this might work.
Apple could also make it easier for content producers to become content distributors. They already have started the process with the iTunes Music Store, what if they made a P2P platform that allowed anyone to publish their iMovie online? Or a content server for network illiterate people on cable modems? iLife, except collaborative and social. cLife. Apple could lead the charge into the world of ends.