Does Apple's iPhone 4 Signal the Death of the Macintosh?

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Dear Macintosh,

I hate to tell you this, but my guess is you've probably been sensing it already. I don't know any good way to say it, so let me just be blunt: You've been dropped. Dumped. It's over.

I'm sorry. I know this hurts. But you need to face up to the truth–Steve Jobs just broke up with you. This happened yesterday at the World Wide Developers Conference. I know–why couldn't he just do it in private? Well, you know Steve. He loves the spotlight.

So what did he talk about? He talked about iPads, and the App Store, and iBooks, and videogames. He talked about the new iPhone 4, with new video-chat software called FaceTime and a gyroscope that lets you shoot missiles into outer space and take pictures of Saturn or something. And he had lots and lots to say about his new mobile-phone operating system, which used to be called iPhone OS and now has changed its name to iOS 4.

But one thing Steve didn't have much to say about was you. In fact, he didn't talk about you at all. That's not how it used to be. Remember the old days?

Why it seems like only yesterday that you, Mac, were all Steve wanted to talk about. You and your wonderful stable operating system that was so much better than Windows.

And remember those cool "I'm a Mac" ads? They were everywhere.

To anyone out there who thinks yesterday's radio silence on the Macintosh was not significant, or who still is attempting to build a business around the—and, yes, I'm talking to you, Macworld magazine, and Macworld Expo, and Mac Life, and Macalope, and MacTech, and MyMac, and MacUser, and all the rest of you—well, dear friends, listen up.

The future of Apple is no longer centered around the Macintosh. You Mac guys just got kicked to the curb, relegated to the steaming dung heap of the past.

The future, for Apple, is all about iPhones and iPads, and, more important, the operating system software that powers them—the sexy new iOS 4, which these days seems to be getting most of Steve's attention.

Click the image above to take a look at the "insanely great" career of Steve Jobs.

As Steve himself told a developer via e-mail recently:

We are focusing primarily (though not exclusively) on iPhone OS this year. Maybe next year we will focus primarily on the Mac. Just the normal cycle of things. No hidden meaning here.

Little hint: when Steve says there's "no hidden meaning," what he means is, "Duh, loser, isn't it obvious?"

To be sure, Apple won't kill off the Mac. But it will keep pumping up the capabilities of iOS 4 so that iPads and other future mobile devices can displace the Mac.

Remember how Apple was always so aggressive at cannibalizing its own iPods by bringing out newer models that offered better features at lower prices? Same thing is happening here. Low-cost mobile devices powered by the iOS are going to chew their way up into the Macintosh market space.

Indeed, some analysts say iPad is already outselling the Mac.

I'm sorry, dear old Mac, but your ex-boyfriend Steve has moved on.

I know what you're telling yourself, Mac. You think Steve is being ridiculous. He's having a midlife crisis. You think it's just a fling, and once Steve has had some fun with his sexy younger plaything he'll come rushing back to sensible old you, with your powerful Unix-based kernel and your clean, intuitive user interface.

Well, no. That's not going to happen. I'm sorry. One thing Steve has always been good at is dumping the old and embracing the new, even when it means being brutal, and ruthless—even when it means hurting people. You know this, Mac. You used to think it was kind of sexy.

Sure, I hear you griping about all the things iOS can't do. Why, it's just now getting multitasking for God's sake! You're asking yourself, What does iOS 4 have—sniff—that I don't have?

Well, in some ways, not much. In some ways, in fact, you could say that iOS 4 is nothing more than a subset of you. But from Steve's perspective there are a couple of big things that the iOS 4 offers that you don't.

For one thing, with iOS 4, Steve gets to decide which apps can run on the platform. I mean he can literally pick and choose the apps. He gets to approve each one. He has total control. You know how Steve is about control.

Also, those apps can only be sold in Steve's online app store, and he gets a 30 percent slice of the revenue. Also, there are ads. I know, Mac—you were always the platform that was so pure, with no ads, no crapware. That was what Steve always said he loved most about you.

Remember how Steve used to go on and on about how people didn't want their personal computers cluttered up with garish ads like some ugly stock car circling a NASCAR track? Well, not anymore. This new iOS 4 is a full-blown tart, and will come splattered with ads everywhere.

And guess what? Steve thinks it's great. In fact, he's the one behind it. He's making the ads himself! And he's keeping 40 percent of the revenue.

You're right, Mac. Steve has changed. He's not the Steve we used to know. Or maybe he's always been like this, and we just didn't see it.

I feel for you, Mac. I really do. But, hey—you and Steve had a great run. You were an inspiration to a lot of people, myself included. Thanks, Mac. You were one of the great ones.