I don’t know if you’ve seen this piece from Network World titled What the IoT Industry Can Learn from Apple’s Revival of the Mac. I’m sure the author has some great points to make, but those points are baseless when rooted in blatant misinformation. I’m not going to deconstruct the whole article — just the two paragraphs that John Gruber called, “maybe the dumbest two paragraphs about the Mac I’ve ever read.”
Here are the paragraphs in question:
In 2007, the Mac was on life support. Consumers and companies bought Windows XP and Vista machines instead of Macs. The Mac had been very proprietary up until then. The hardware platform was based on the Motorola 6800 family, which came in third behind Intel and AMD and the PowerPC. It ran a proprietary OS with components of FreeBSD Unix, but it was not Unix compliant.
The Mac transitioned that same year. It had been a proprietary device running a proprietary operating system, with a beautiful proprietary user interface (UI) in an elegant ergonomically designed enclosure. Apple pivoted by shifting to the Intel platform and FreeBSD Unix, complying to the Single UNIX Specification (SUS). The Mac today is a PC running an open-source operating system with beautiful proprietary UI in even more elegantly designed enclosures. FreeBSD influenced the evolution of the MacOS. Since the transition, many FreeBSD Unix components were rewritten and many APIs were added.
So let’s take this a bit at a time.
“In 2007, the Mac was on life support.” Apple was moving over 1.5 billion Macs per quarter in 2007. It’s nothing compared to today, but it was far from life support. If you want to talk about life support, you have to jump back to the 1990s.
“The Mac had been very proprietary up until then.” If by proprietary, you mean using the same wireless standard as the rest of the industry, using widely adopted ports like USB and HDMI, having an operating system built on UNIX, a browser built on the open source WebKit, and using the standard x86 architecture in all of their computers, then sure. Apple today is arguably more proprietary than the Apple of 2007.
“The hardware platform was based on the Motorola 6800 family…” Oh my. It hurts. First, Apple used PowerPC processors from 1996 to 2006. Prior to that, they used Motorola 68000 processors, not 6800. By 2007, the year at the beginning of the article, Apple had entirely transitioned to Intel processors.
“The Mac transitioned that same year.” Nope on all counts but one. 2007 is the year Mac OS X complied with the Single UNIX Specification. But the operating system had been based on FreeBSD since 2001 (really since the 90s if you count its NextStep roots); Apple had transitioned to Intel in 2006.
“The Mac today is a PC running an open-source operating system with beautiful proprietary UI in even more elegantly designed enclosures.” Today’s macOS is really no more open than it was when it came out in 2001. If the author had been comparing today’s Macs to those of 1996, this might make sense, but he’s not.