Apple’s Position Today

This is the whole text of a comment I made in the MacOSX list from Omni a few days back which some people told me should’ve been in the Blog. I expect no comments yet will gladly see any opinions..:)
I paste the text here with no modifications (except for HTML editing) just to please those people..:)

WARNING: This started as a simple comment, in reply to some other e-mail and ended up being a kind of diatribe mixed with requests for opinions. It is NOT a flamebait so please extinguish the flamethrowers. I’m asking for honest and direct opinions, not for witty insults -unless in the middle of an actual answer-, it is not trolling either but a genuine exploration of a thought I was having. I tried putting lots of references and tried to be as clear and concise as my fractured english allows. Try to be coherent and take things as I meant them, not as I may have written them.(*)
(Well… This started out as a comment on the Windows TabletPC…)
I was just checking out the XP Tablet thingy and realized most of what it has we already have, but was wondering exactly how far or ahead was OSX when compared to it.
Has anyone tried XP with writing recognition yet (I don’t know if it just became available or was available before this, I tend to run away from XP like the plague).
It seems we’re all there. We have Ink (although Ink may by now be old technology, again, I wouldn’t know, it has never understood my writing but, then again, neither can I sometimes), obviously mouse support is there (duh). What else we’d be missing to make a tablet? A good on-screen keyboard? speech recognition?(1) Speech synthesis?(2)
What other things should a tablet have? what could it have? I can think obviously of the remote control capabilities and digital-hub for your house, as well as wireless, but what else should it have to be competitive?
(And then moved by itself into the Digital Hub concept realm )
I think MacOSX is ahead in several aspects to every other OS out there, but I’m also afraid it is lagging behind in a lot of smaller things people are getting used to see in their daily usage of the computer which we’re not seeing in this platform (or the prospect of them). We’ve talked a few in this place, so let’s recap (and not start a war, I’m trying to be objective here) so we can use this as a basis of ideas on what OSX could be missing to compete against other OSes.
We’ve talked so far about:
-Multiple-concurrent login sessions (available, at least, in W2K and above), where a user can log out his graphical session without closing programs and another user can log in and do other things.
-Peer-to-peer communication programs: IM-type programs that allow media other than text to be shared. Things like Video, sound and computer screens. Windows has NetMeeting, there are other unix solutions out there compatible to some degree with NetMeeting (because it uses standardised protocols, not because it is one)
-Microsoft Windows: (NetMeeting) http://www.microsoft.com/windows/netmeeting/
-Linux: http://www.gnomemeeting.org/ (GNOME Meeting)
-HP-UX: (HP Visualize Conference, clone of NetMeeting) http://www.software.hp.com/cgi-bin/swdepot_parser.cgi/cgi/displayProductInfo.pl?productNumber=B7580AA
-What could be used in MacOS: OpenH323 (as a basis for a tool) http://www.openh323.org/
-Better media support. More media support. True Digital Hub direction: I believe Apple did the right thing by focusing the people on the digital hub idea, but has, since, lost its focus on all this concept entails. Apple was pioneer in putting a name and a face in this. Apple started with this providing a decent MP3 player in the OS, with decent support for MP3 players (and an outstanding MP3 player); it also provided free Movie editing programs and free DVD creation programs, as well as good integration of burning devices and cameras with the OS and a semi-good photo classifying program.
There is more media out there now. PVR’s are coming of age and everyone and their mothers want one. TV-in-the-PC is, again, catching on and it seems it now has a foothold to step on (PVR’s, on-the-fly-MPG2 compression, programation available on the net, DVD burners in the PC, etc.) yet nothing seems in the horizon for OSX on this side. Microsoft has already realized this is (probably) the “next big thing” and has launched its media center(3) software, which aims to make Windows PC’s the actual digital hub as people see it (after all, everyone has a television and that’s all that’s needed, plus a TV input/output port, whereas for the other digital hub concepts people need to have a digital video camera, a digital still camera, an mp3 player, etc.). Windows has caught up and is trying its best to “prove” it can do things better than Apple (sometimes subtly, sometimes obviously and sometimes blatantly lying, but most of all by copying ideas and trying to extend on them(4).
So, what do you think? What may Apple be considering in the future? What should it consider? What will it regrettably not tap into?

( And then came the endless references )

(1) Speech recognition in the mac is only available for macros and scripts. Speech-to-text is only available through third-parties, like ViaVoice
-Microsoft Windows: http://www.microsoft.com/speech/
-Unix (Take your pick) http://freshmeat.net/search/?q=speech+recognition&section=projects

(2) MacOS was once leader in this area (the first mac already had some text-to-speech abilities), we were still ahead when it was available in OSX. I think we’ve seriously lagged behind other platforms here, tho’. As far as I can see no improvements have been made from the TTS engine developed for OS7 that already included the voices we still have (like Zarvox, trinoids, princess, etc.) I can detect any difference from this to what we had and have had no compelling evidence to think otherwise. On the other hand we have Festival on Linux, which is pretty decent and Microsoft has its own TTS engine which is pretty good (as good as it can be, at least), if prone to errors and buffer overruns. -Microsoft Windows: http://www.microsoft.com/speech/ -Linux (and other unices): Festival: http://www.cstr.ed.ac.uk/projects/festival/ http://festvox.org/ (try the demo) http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~awb/festival_demos/general.html

(3) http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/mediacenter/

(4) Microsoft’s take on… iPhoto: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/digitalphotography/default.asp iTunes: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/windowsmediaplayer/default.asp iMovie: http://www.microsoft.com/WindowsXP/moviemaker/default.asp AirPort: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/expertzone/focuson/wirelessnetworking.asp iChat: (with access to shared services seizing the peer-to-peer nature of IM programs) http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/windowsmessenger/default.asp

(*)I can’t believe one has to put disclaimers like this, but this list is so unbearably preachy and aggressive sometimes that it may be the only way to ellicit civil answers.

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