The recent iMac drive replacement issue topic made me go outside the box in my own thinking, and made me wonder if Cupertino, yet again, had another ace up its sleeve we just weren’t seeing yet.
I thought long and hard because something was always nagging at me… and that’s the question of “why?” My inner three-year-old self was just throwing a temper tantrum. I just had to take the time to listen. Why make the drive harder to replace in the latest 2011 iMac? I, for one, am not like the many doomsayers. I don’t think of Apple is an evil company run by evil people. In fact, I applaud most everything Apple does. I greatly appreciate their products, the hard work they do, and truly think their contributions to the tech world go under appreciated by most.
However, Apple is a company in the business of making money. They just happen to be a company that makes money doing some wicked cool things. So my hat’s off to everyone who led and built the Apple, Mac, and iOS platforms since day one. The reason I say this is I don’t like to bare out the conspiracy theorist, and Mac vs PC curmudgeons. There will always be parties entrenched on both sides of the debate; some with noteworthy rational points and others irrational. I’m a freedom type guy… buy and use what you like without need to degrade others in the process. I’ve just experienced the debate for so long I simply don’t care, and think my tool of choice works best.
We have become a nation of critics. After all, it’s far easier to criticize than create. One of the things I like about Apple is its ability to make me wonder, to try to walk in their shoes, and understand their perspective of what they’re trying to do and show the world. Which, I have to say, this type of thinking is a much better place to be, man.
So Apple makes me wonder. Big deal right? Well, the iMac drive replacement issue had me wondering quite a lot of late… as it just didn’t make total sense. Why do I believe they did it? Likely to solve a design / engineering problem they had. Does that sound overly simplistic? Perhaps, but I don’t subscribe to the notion they did it out of evil upgrade money grubbing intentions. They likely did it to make the machine work a certain way so they could get on to the business of selling more iMacs. I truly believe Apple would rather sell more Macs than being in the business of repairing them. The customer support overhead of repairing takes up a lot of resources, time, expertise, marketing, and PR. Selling makes more money, and exposes new users to the platform.
But…. that didn’t answer the “Why?” question for me. To me, the question of “Why?” comes to mind when you attempt take a step back and imagine yourself in Apple’s shoes. Apple’s engineers had to know about this, and knew it would be an issue. That is, unless the “issue” wasn’t going to be there at all in the near future in their minds.
Apple Is A Future Forward Company
They’re arguably one of the only innovators in their market space. Have you heard of Dell being mimicked for their great PC designs and technologies, or iOS borrowing from Windows Phone? Not really. Apple has the entire computing industry…and even to a certain degree the consumer electronics industry, mimicking and flat out copying them.
If you think about how much Apple attacks with its “future forward design philosophy”, then you might be getting where I’m going with this. What if Apple knew the internal drives weren’t going to be there for long, and that they didn’t really matter as far as desktops are concerned?
How Can You Have A Driveless Computer?
It’s all about the “bolt” baby…. all about the “bolt”. Thunderbolt is a new technology, and has much higher speed capabilities than we’ve ever been really exposed to in the consumer computing market. It’s a “future forward” product, and one that I believe will rock the desktop computing paradigm. Why do desktop computers need a drive inside at all? If you’re using a desktop, having a second external drive is no big deal. In fact, if you aren’t running Time Machine, or some type of cloned backup of your data, you really should start now with some external storage. I just happen to recommend OWC Externals not because I work here, but because it’s what I trust for my data backup at home and at work. (Remember, we live Macs here too.)
Imagine a Thunderbolt world though. You can have your drive(s) external, bootable, and if using a multi-drive enclosure, get faster performance than any single internal drive. The drive can be a portable speed demon… or it could be a desktop multi-drive monolith of capacious space and speed. The future of storage may inherently be a combination of SSD, multi-drive, and Thunderbolt.
Think of that combination for a moment. Let the external drive storage do what it needs to and do it well. Then let the computer handle the computing part of the equation. An external drive is also easier to fix, upgrade, switch out, and use on other computers as needed. And you can bet once people start driving multiple SSDs over Thunderbolt, that the internal drive in the iMac will be relegated to storage or backup.
Just imagine two or more SSDs powered by Thunderbolt running your OS, apps, and storage, and you can also fathom that Apple has already lived this type of speed over the last couple years while they helped develop this technology. Apple just may know this may be a really big thing to hit the the desktop computing market. Maybe as big as the iDevices phenomenon. Thunderbolt presents a new equation to the game, and could invariably be a huge game changer.
So I think I’ve answered the “Why?” Now we just all have to wait to get there.
The first Thunderbolt multi-drive based enclosures won’t be cheap, but the tech heads who want the fastest speed may just be using a driveless Mac in the near future. And the current Thunderbolt implementation doesn’t even go as fast as the interface could go… Thunderbolt can actually get faster.
Not just for desktops? Think of this as well. You could simply plug your Thunderbolt drive into your laptop and boot from that as well. So, you could take your speed demon storage on the road too, and use the desktop for more power when you need it.
It’s an interesting concept to say the least.
Apple made me think about the future with this development. How about you….feel my ‘Why” is just a matter of “When”? Let us know!