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Maybe the Mac is a typewriter after all

Jason Snell | May 28, 2015
Some of my colleagues still type on keyboards designed by Apple in the 1980s. What I'm saying is, some people really care about keyboards. But whether or not you have opinions about keyboards, they're important tools to help us get written language into our digital devices.

This doesn't mean the Mac isn't powerfulI'd much rather write a novel on a physical keyboard than dictate it into my phone! But if you're Apple, looking for places to advance technology and create the next big thing, the Mac probably doesn't jump out as a huge opportunity compared to products like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and maybe even the Apple TV.

When I see a story like the one about the new Apple keyboard patent, I also realize the careful line Apple has to walk with Mac design. Push too far, and your customers won't follow you. If someone wants to buy a MacBook, you can't give them an iPad. If they wanted an iPad, they'd buy one.

Could Apple ditch the trackpad and integrate touch sensors into the keyboard? Sure. It sounds interesting, and the fact that Apple is apparently investigating such technology shows that there are still engineers at Apple trying to find ways to advance the state of the art of the personal computer.

I also sometimes wonder if Apple might one day try to replace the Mac's keyboard with a multitouch display equipped with haptic feedback. Those of us who are freaked out about the lack of travel in the MacBook keyboard would go nuts if that happened. But would it break the metaphor? Maybe.

At some point, Apple will discover that all its best ideas for Mac innovation push the product too far, making it into something it's not. And on that dayI don't think we've reached it yet, but I suspect we can see it from herethe personal computer will truly have run out of room. You've got to give Apple credit, though. It's just about the only company who's still trying to find ways to evolve the traditional personal computer. The moment that Apple runs out of road, though, is the moment that the PC joins the typewriter in the box of old technology.


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