February 20, 2012

The (Mountain) Lion Sleeps Tonight

In 2010, Steve Jobs famously said:

“I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product. I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

Pretty ironic, given the liberties Apple has been known to take over the years by “borrowing” ideas from other products (the original Macintosh was inspired heavily by Xerox PARC). Last year, we talked about Copy. Transform. Combine: the act of taking an idea and essentially trying to make it better. Apple certainly has a tendency to this. Especially in its operating systems. When iOS4 was previewed last year, it was hard not to see the similarities between the new Notification Center and its Android counterpart. Apple went as far as hiring developers who were primarily involved in the jailbreak community.

Therefore, when a new OS is announced, I’m always interested in the competition it’s essentially killing. Here are some apps or services that I believe Apple is set on destroying:


My go-to app on iPhone is Simplenote. It’s a relatively simple notes-taking app that I combine with its desktop counterpart, JustNotes. This combo keeps all my notes in sync across my computer, iPhone and iPad. However, with the release of Mountain Lion, the built-in Notes app will vanquish both of these.


I’ve been seeking a solid ‘reminders’ app for a long time and Things is the best of a bad bunch. However, at $49.99 for the desktop app and $9.99 for the iOS app, it’s pretty spendy. Now that Reminders has been removed from iCal and given its own dedicated app, Things will have a tough time at that price point. Also, with the tight integration of iCloud, your reminders will be synchronized across our devices.


iChat has always had the ability to maintain multiple IM accounts from various vendors, but it’s competitor Adium has had a strong following. Will fans be willing to ditch it now that iChat’s successor, Messages, allows users to send iMessages to iOS devices and keep your chats in sync?


When third-party apps are Growl-enabled, they will alert you of any updates. With Mountain Lion’s new Notification Center, I’m not sure how Growl will be able to compete given Growl’s $2 price tag.


Apple has been going after the Microsoft-owned Skype for some time now. Out of the box, Mountain Lion has FaceTime built into Messages making video chat ludicrously easy and, best of all, free. Skype does has the advantage that it works on mobile devices over 3G. Right now, Skype has the advantage, but if Apple ever opens up the FaceTime protocol (as they vowed to do) or enables access over 3G, Skype may see some serious competition.


This is the big one! Last year, Dropbox said “No” to a nine-digit acquisition offer from Apple, despite Jobs warning them that Apple was “going after the market”. With iCloud, it’s pretty evident that this is the case. Currently, iCloud only syncs specific documents types, but in 10.8, you’ll be able to send any document type you desire. Apple is radically changing the way we use the “Open” dialog; now, in addition to seeing files on your system, you’ll be able to open iCloud files. In the weekend iCloud launched (with a very limited feature set), Apple reports 20 million sign ups… that’s half of Dropbox’s total subscribers. I think Dropbox is going to see a huge threat from iCloud.

We’ll see once Mountain Lion launches this summer.