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WWDC Rapid Reactions: OWC CEO Larry O’Connor

LarrysDeskOWC Founder and CEO Larry O’Connor took some time to answer questions and offer thoughts on what he saw from Apple on Monday at the 2014 edition of WWDC, and on what the future might hold. Apple previewed the future of OS X with Yosemite along with iOS 8 at the annual conference in San Francisco.

What were your overall thoughts on the 2014 WWDC? Were you surprised by anything?
I’m surprised that there was no new hardware shown off. I like the OS X direction, but I’m concerned that it’s mainly consumer focused. There are some nice features, but nothing ground breaking for focused production environments. Overall it seemed relatively light on the Apple Mac side of the fence vs. the iOS side.

What do you think the 2014 WWDC says about the direction of Apple?
Nothing that hasn’t been apparent for years now in terms of path to intersection with iOS and OS X. For now, and the reasonable future, I do very much like that it is more symbiotic with cross functionality aspects. Neither truly replaces the other and the user experience is becoming far more enhanced with the utilization of both together. I saw a lot of griping that Apple was just copying, catching up – I’d argue Apple has had these features and functions in the plan for years and the Apple experience will continue to be second to none.

My biggest concern is that while the clear focus is on the consumer end and there are nice Enterprise security features throughout – when it comes to the Macintosh part of the equation, the focus on the pro user/business production user end of the equation is a distant second. That said – they still have a platform that remains tops for creative professionals and work groups. I just don’t want a lack of priority there to result in that changing. It’s an interesting reverse trickle in some respects.

Was there anything you were expecting that didn’t come to fruition?
Probably too early to ask … We need to see if Apple yet throws some new hardware out there over the next few weeks. Even if it’s just a new Thunderbolt HD and 4K display to expand line up and replace current Thunderbolt display. To me, it is embarrassing that the only Apple branded display today is now over 3 years old and provides only Thunderbolt 10Gb/s and USB 2 connectivity. Just a simple update with Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 ports would be a nice improvement.

Were you disappointed by the lack of new hardware?
I certainly expected a taste of new hardware, but we’ll see what the next couple weeks bring. May yet see something or may be waiting till the fall.

What do you expect from Apple in the coming months and throughout 2014?
A Mac mini refresh is well overdue. I am concerned they will destroy what makes the mini a winner – and short of a more basic processor & GPU speedup/refresh, I very much expect to be disappointed in what the next mini delivers. I still have hope, but not holding my breath.

MacBook Pro 13″ – the last flexible, truly pro model all but certain to be replaced with a 12″ Retina entry-level model. We shall see. There’s also potential for it to simply be retired, but it appears to still be selling well.

New Apple TV likely will have it’s own special event…

New displays and perhaps even Apple 4K “TVs”. If nothing else, how can they not be getting an update out there on the 3-year-old Thunderbolt 27″ Display…. 10Gb/s and USB 2.0? Really… at least kick it up to 20Gb/s Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 on the hub ports. It would be very convenient to have a good display with integrated TB hub for one connection to all.

I’d like to see the Mac Pro updated to have more than three independent Thunderbolt channels – move it up to 6 vs. the current 3 at least. 4K displays are bandwidth hogs (take down 14Gb/s of a 20GB/s channel) and leave little for other connected devices. More Thunderbolt channels on the Mac Pros would be welcome for many users.

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  • As a developer, I strongly disagree. We tend to forget that WWDC is a developer event. As such, with everything they announced but especially Swift, they pretty much blew us away. Playgrounds will make learning programming so much easier for many people.

    I expect hardware to be announced in the fall, probably together with Mac Mini or Server related stuff which would work together with the new hardware.

  • I had sensed this too, and am glad to hear it coming from a major Mac developer for power users. While I’m not necessary surprised by the lack of hardware — considering Intel’s current processor lineup and release schedule, there isn’t really an opportunity for releasing anything right now and even the selection of Haswell processors with Iris graphics that would be Mac Mini-appropriate is still skeletal — but on the software side I was concerned to see no specific mentions for things like Aperture or other pro Apps, nor any mentions of server.

  • The Mac Pro’s Intel Xeon E5 CPU is completely tapped out of possible ports. So unless Intel comes out with a new and better model, the Mac Pro cannot be updated to have more than 2 independent Thunderbolt channels. It is a CPU problem. The only other solution is having 2 CPUs. But then there is no room for this in the current chassis.

    Some manufacturers cheat by putting in a USB hub within the motherboard to emulate having more USB ports. But Apple does not. It is the consumer who has to add the external USB hub on the Mac Pro.

  • Has anybody actually asked Cook what are their plans for the MacMini, and has he responded i doubt it? A few months ago their were rumours out of China that Apple was testing an enterprise motherboard that would be a partial way to invite the DIY hackers to build their own Mac with a set of predefined add ons. This might be an idea that would enable the hackers to have the “best of both worlds”. Indications are that OSX Yosemite will be considerably more difficult to hack as it appears to load only signed kexts, and ignore the others like fakeSMC, the core of the hackintosh. With 10.9.x these 3rd party kexts were loaded with an unsigned error, with 10.10 they are ignored. there might be way around it by injecting these kexts into the cache, but Apple has made great stride in protecting their OS from hackers.An “enterprise Apple MB might be a way forward, to suit both Apple and the DIYers who after all do buy apps etc etc.
    Apple apparent lack of innovation will only encourage those who like to experiment with the hardware.