If you put together my 2011 predictions so far they create a world view of tech culture and business as I see it for the coming year. Each prediction builds on the others until we get to these last two, which present a couple boffo conclusions, the big question being “What does Apple need with a 500,000 (soon to be one million) square foot data center in rural North Carolina?”
First we have Apple working to kill small hard drives. We’ll shortly see Apple also killing optical drives in its notebooks. This is to save money, space, and weight, sure, but it is mainly to limit local storage. We need local storage, but Steve doesn’t want us to have too much or we won’t need his big data center, which is about to open. In that respect Apple likes it that flash storage is still too expensive to have in unlimited amounts. His various App Stores, too, are intended to change the mechanics of software storage and distribution.
The iPad has no real file system, why is that? Because its intended file system is that late-in-opening Apple data center in Maiden, NC. Also look for the new MacBooks to take advantage of the same cloud filing system through OS X 10.7 Lion. Steve said the new MacBook air was the future of Apple laptops. But with low capacity solid state drives, where will all the media be stored? The answer, of course, is in North Carolina. Look for updated versions of iWork to also take advantage of the data center for storage and collaboration.
Apple is heading toward a world of thin client computing networked out of the box. It’s the new MobileMe. Content creation will take place on solid state drive MacBooks/iMacs and content consumption will take place on iPads and iPhones.
This is also their corporate strategy. Apple sees companies abandoning IT departments in favor of simply passing out iPads and MacBooks – already networked out of the box to secure storage, email, and collaborative services. In typical Apple fashion, this strategy completely does an end-run around the status quo, revolutionizing the way businesses think about computing. Why else would Apple abandon their corporate server (xServe) strategy?
Steve has always seen Apple as a solutions provider, giving customers completely finished functionality. The data center connects subnet functionally to other subnets, extending the reach of Apple computing devices by connecting them to as many subnets as required.