Apple bringing iPhoneOS/ARM architecture to new platforms

With the launch of Apple's tablet a mere few weeks away, we can already start looking at other platforms which Apple may aim its new processor architecture.

Apple, in a job posting last week, advertised for an "Engineering Manager (Platform Bring-Up)" which states that Apple is taking their iPhone OS and putting it on new platforms:

The Core Platform team within Apple's Core OS organization is looking for a talented and inspired manager to lead a team focused on bring-up of iPhone OS on new platforms. The team is responsible for low level platform architecture, firmware, core drivers and bring-up of new hardware platforms. The team consists of talented engineers with experience in hardware, firmware, IOKit drivers, security and platform architecture.

Which platforms?  There are so many.  As TiPb points out today, the biggest no-brainer of them all is AppleTV.  With the iPhone OS and a Apple's own processors, the AppleTV could be made into something much smaller and cheaper.  AppleTV has been whittled down to one 160GB version which hasn't seen much action lately.

But, if it moved to iPhoneOS, it could be sold for free with a small cable TV-like subsidy and be no bigger than an Apple Airport Express.  Then, it could be attached to the back of HDTVs like a power supply.  With the iPhoneOS, it would instantly have access to 100,000+ apps (though these might not easily translate to the TV platform) and the interface would be familiar to the millions of iPhone/iPod and iPad owners.


But why stop there?  Apple currently sells its MacBook Air for well over $1000.  With Apple processors and iPhone OS, that price could be brought significantly down.  Most people use the MacBook Air for light Office applications, Email, web browsing and ...maybe a little Photoshop here and there.  With iPad's Office apps, online editors getting better and new apps on the horizon to fill in these shoes (and for the love of everything decent and holy, 3G), it wouldn't be hard to see the MacBook Air going iPhone OS in two years either.

Two years down the road, other low ends of the Apple Mac line might get eaten up by the Apple processor/iPhone OS.  Mac Mini and MacBook, I am looking directly at you.  Once there is an iPhone OS running the TV and the MacBook Air segments, it isn't a great leap to expect to see it in low end Macs.  The size and cost would make up for any loss of functionality by the iPhoneOS.

Interestingly, Today's New York Times piece, which had Apple spending $1 billion to build the processor (something Apple hope to reap the benefits of many times over), they mentioned that companies were using ARM chips to build servers. 

For example, Apple’s coming iPad tablet computer will run on an ARM chip. So, too, will new tiny laptops from Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo. A couple of start-ups have even started to explore the idea of using ARM chips in computer servers. 

What better way to revive Apple's lackluster enterprise offering than to make new micro-servers that are insanely low powered and affordable.  In fact, they could take their current Time Capsule device (which currently runs on an ARM processor from another company) and beef it up for small business or 'home and family'.  Then beef that up for the enterprise.

Why stop at Apple's current product matrix?  Perhaps Appel is working on some entirely new products.  Wearable devices?  Automobile systems.  Home Automation.  Specialized devices for factories.  The list goes on and on.

There are no shortage of short term (next 3 years) uses for Apple's Processor/iPhoneOS architecture.   The application in the job listing above may refer to things entirely different to anything I've described.  But, make no mistake, new product lines are being built as we speak.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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