Is Apple About to Embrace Multi-Platform Development? - The UpStream

Is Apple About to Embrace Multi-Platform Development?

posted Thursday Sep 3, 2015 by Scott Ertz

Is Apple About to Embrace Multi-Platform Development?

The differences between the way Apple does business and how everyone else in the industry do business are well documented. For most of the Mac's existence, the largest software developers for the platform were Microsoft and Adobe, with Apple barely making the list. Microsoft has produced Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even a version of Internet Explorer for a period of time. Adobe has produced what is currently called the Creative Cloud, which includes products like Photoshop and Premiere. Even Google produces Chrome for the Mac.

What does Apple produce for Windows? iTunes and QuickTime. For a while they produced Safari, but that was short lived. That leaves their software products, like Photos, Pages, Numbers and Keynote, available only on their own platform. Considering the overall adoption rate of Mac, which is higher than in previous years, but only around 10% of active computers, this represents a lot of development cost for very little reward.

The company's focus on hardware has been successful for them for many years, but has certainly slowed in recent years. While Microsoft's foray into hardware, the Surface, has continued to see sales growth, the iPad has retreated over the past few quarters, despite new hardware. The iPhone has similarly seen sales declines, but not of dangerous amounts. So, while hardware in general becomes less attractive to consumers, how is Apple to compete in an industry that they have never participated in? We might find out on September 9th at the next Apple event.

Apple may not have teased or leaked any information about Windows software coming our way, but the event page does give a little hint to a change within the company. To watch the livestream of their event, they have always required an Apple product - Mac, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV. On this event page, however, is this text:

Requirements: Live streaming uses Apple's HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) technology. HLS requires an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with Safari on iOS 7.0 or later, a Mac with Safari 6.0.5 or later on OS X v10.8.5 or later, or a PC with Microsoft Edge on Windows 10. Streaming via Apple TV requires a second- or third-generation Apple TV with software 6.2 or later.

Supporting Edge is a very big deal, because it represents a shift in mentality for the company. It could also indicate an announcement for the event of Apple software coming to Windows, likely Windows 10. The most logical product for them to bring over to Windows would be their iWork suite, which would attempt to compete with Microsoft's own Office suite. While the prices might be less for the product, the capabilities are also far less - an issue that has helped drive adoption of Office on iOS and Mac. Another good choice could be Photos, which would give Windows users easier and direct access to the iCloud photos takes with an iPhone.

The problem here will be whether Apple can get adoption on these products off their own devices. To accomplish it, they will need to increase the capabilities of their products. For example, expanding the iCloud storage available to customers paying $10 per month: Apple currently gives 500GB for that price, while Microsoft gives 1TB of OneDrive plus Office for Windows and Mac and Skype Phone for $7 per month. It will take a big move to get people consider the change.

So, is this the beginning of a change in culture for Apple, or did Microsoft simply implement HLS in the new browser? We only need to wait a few more days to find out. Would you consider using a product like iWork or Photos on Windows? Let us know in the comments.

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