To state the obvious, it’s hard to forecast the future. (Not that I won’t be trying to do just that with a few predictions of my own later this week.) Predicting the future is hard in any forum, but especially with technology because so much changes at once, not to mention that there is such interdependence between various technologies. And when a so-called “breakthrough” happens, oh my, it sends ripple effects everywhere.
When a computer giant like Apple announces a new hardware platform, it’s about as close as we can get to seeing the future, or at least a portion of it. The reason is simple — the hardware is likely to be around for quite some time, because releasing requires a lot of money, effort, and insight. As such, when Apple announced the Vision Pro last week we got a glimpse into the next several years.
I read this morning that there have already been 10,000 reviews of the Vision Pro, and I’m sure that doesn’t include social media posts. Some forecast that the device will be a complete flop, while others predict that it will change the world. But most of the commentary is based on what we know about the software of today. I’ve done the same thing myself, suggesting last week that the current Apple ecosystem would be instrumental in achieving wide-scale adoption.
We have all heard the critique “a solution in search of a problem.” Usually that’s damning commentary. But I think it misses the mark when it comes to computer hardware. Maybe that’s exactly what a computing platform is supposed to be — a partial and potential solution in search of developers to solve known and not-yet-known problems. What problem exactly was the Mac solving back in 1984? Desktop publishing? Okay, maybe so. But it ended up solving a whole lot more than that because of developers who leveraged the platform later on to do some pretty amazing things. Purchasers of the original iPhone didn’t have an App Store even, but it didn’t take long until all kinds of solutions were developed to address problems which we previously hadn’t been able to solve, or that we didn’t think were even solvable!
At this point, Apple is keenly aware of how impacting the development community can be, and Apple is providing unprecedented support to software engineers for the Vision Pro. Sometimes the problems which will be solved can be envisioned, but often not.
Predicting the future is a challenging. Go back and watch the “One more thing” portion of the Apple Watch keynote from 2014. Look for the now familiar Heart icon — for the Apple Health app — in the featured picture of the watch face. (Hint: You’ll be looking a long time — it isn’t there.) Back then, we couldn’t see how impacting the Apple Watch was as a tool to promote health. The Vision Pro keynote last week had a lot of incredibly compelling content. But don’t we also have to wonder what was completely left out?