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OS X Operating Systems

Mac OS X May Go Embedded? 129

Posted by Zonk
from the stranger-things-have-happened dept.
VE3OGG writes "Apple Insider is reporting that Apple may very well be developing an embedded version of OSX. The report details what they believe will be the next step in Apple's future, which is extending its consumer electronics division. The first child of such a marriage between OSX and consumer electronic may be the oft-rumoured, not-yet-materialized iPhone — which it also asserts may well be released next fiscal quarter. It seems to be their opinion that with both the desktop and the phone running operating systems with similar underpinnings, 'expansive opportunities' would emerge."
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Mac OS X May Go Embedded?

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  • Not bloody likely (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ebichete (223210) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @01:54AM (#17346326)
    Operating system that consists of BSD layered on top of a microkernel, whose only compelling feature is its rather excellent UI, wants to compete in embedded space.

    This is the same embedded market where constrained resources make extra layering in the kernel a no-no and the aforementioned UI is irrelevant.

    If this is true, colour me stupefied.
  • by astrashe (7452) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:03AM (#17346362) Journal
    (This is pure hot air, and not informed by much actual knowledge. Hah! I beat you to saying it!)

    For a long time before they switched, we kept hearing about x86 versions of OS X.

    The impression I have is that they developed that version of the OS so that they'd always have the option to switch if they had to, not because they knew they were definitely going to switch when they started work on the x86 version.

    It makes sense for them to to an embedded version, just in case. If they ever decide they want to jump, they'll be in the position of polishing something they already have, rather than starting from scratch.

    And if they want to play with prototypes of things like iPhones, they'll have a really clear understanding of what it is they'd be bringing to market. They can build them, and play with them, and figure out if they'll suck or not, look at them realistically in comparison to what other people are selling, etc. Then if all of the planets are lined up, they can ramp up for a real product.

    Imagine that MS had kept a few guys building audio players for all the years the iPod has been out, and that they had built a few generations of prototypes in the lab, and leaned on them for a few years. When people at the top of the company decided it was strategically important for them to be in that space, they'd have been able to jump in in a different way than they did.

    MS decides that they have to be in music players, then they star a massive effort to get there. The decision is made before anyone really knows how what they'll ultimately produce will stack up against the iPod. If they had a few guys making music players for years, they'd have a much better idea of how their product would stack up before the decided to jump in.

    So I'd be inclined to interpret this as a sign that Apple wants to stay within striking distance of the embedded market, not that they're definitely going in. Apple's not going to make a crummy iPhone. If they do it, they'll want it to be the best phone ever. They're not going to trash their brand just because people keep telling them that they have to be in phones.

  • Re:iPhone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daviddennis (10926) <david@amazing.com> on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:15AM (#17346414) Homepage
    Why not?

    Apple hasn't announced it yet, so we can still call it anything we want.

    Certainly it's an unambiguous term. Everyone knows what it means when on an Apple enthusiast site. (Are there any Linksys-enthusiast sites?)

    D
  • by Bottlemaster (449635) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @02:48AM (#17346534)
    Operating system that consists of BSD layered on top of a microkernel, whose only compelling feature is its rather excellent UI, wants to compete in embedded space.

    This is the same embedded market where constrained resources make extra layering in the kernel a no-no and the aforementioned UI is irrelevant.

    If this is true, colour me stupefied.
    What makes you think that Unix or microkernels aren't scalable? QNX is pretty much both, and it takes the microkernel design much further than OS X.

    Even if the UI was OS X's only strength, that's the most important feature they can bring to the embedded market. With today's fast, low-power embedded processors, anybody can write software that is functional and reasonably responsive. The UI for anything with a full-size keyboard was mastered 50 years ago, but UI is where embedded devices often fail. Apple apparently has some skill at it, because from what I've heard, the iPod's UI is what sets it apart from similar devices (that and being white and shiny I guess).
  • by ebichete (223210) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:35AM (#17346738)
    First a few generalizations. QNX scales well, especially from desktop class machines downwards. The monolithic Unixes scale well, especially from from 386 class machines upwards. Linux uses some rather interesting techniques to scale better than conventional Unix does in the downward direction.

    Now, OS X has both a microkernel and a monolithic kernel. It implements most operating system services in the monolithic layer. This means it loses the primary benefits posited by a microkernel design while possibly incurring the "defects" of both approaches. It is not a microkernel design, it is an operating system that has a microkernel. The guys at NeXT were not interested in the lower layers of their operating system, they were focused almost entirely on the user space (and especially GUI) experience, and they nailed a good part of what they set out to do.

    The GUI of OS X is very well done for a desktop GUI but it is not directly transferable to the embedded market. What is transferable, however, is the UI design skills that Apple has. That is why the iPod is such a great device, not because of OS X.
  • by Bottlemaster (449635) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:52AM (#17346810)
    What I meant to say, but better said.

    Microsoft didn't just port 95/XP to ARM and call it Windows CE/Mobile; nor will Apple do this with OS X. If they do enter the embedded arena, they'll (hopefully, for them) create an OS that not only satisfies the additional efficiency requirements of the embedded world but also follows the same user-oriented design principles as OS X.
  • Re:iPhone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 7Prime (871679) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @04:03AM (#17346880) Homepage Journal

    Which is too bad, because from a creative standpoint, it's one of the more ingenious marketting naming techniques I've seen in some time. "Anyone can put a lower case i in front of a word and make it their own!" is a silly arguement, because noone else did, that is, until Apple started doing it.

    Trademarking should be based on creative thought that went into a unique idea... whether it's a single letter used in a unique way, or a new madeup word... both are creative usages of language. Now, you can argue that the "i" thing is silly, but that's beside the point.

    iNaming creates both instantaneous visual recognition and linguistical identification. It's a name that's its own logo. Marketting anylists anywhere would kill to have been the creator of such a naming scheme.

  • by 7Prime (871679) on Saturday December 23, 2006 @03:06PM (#17349014) Homepage Journal
    Bingo... the underlying layers are really not important in this. As long as Apple can create a small, Quartz or Quartz-like graphics engine, they'll be able utilize their existing skills to come up with an "OS X-esque" but mobile-oriented user interface. It's Quartz that sells OS X, not Darwin.

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