First, T. Conrad, let me apologize for hijacking the thread and taking away from your accomplishment of getting Accordance to run on Xbubuntu. I still think it's awesome.
Second, in regard to the other conversation that I inadvertently started, I have no doubt that there will always be a need for trucks (computers that run things like Windows, Mac & Linux in their desktop incarnations). What I'm not so certain of is whether or not Apple will always want to make trucks. Clearly Apple sees its mobile devices (specifically those running iOS) as its future, and the Mac has taken a back seat to that.
When the iPad was first released, it was still very dependent upon having either a Mac or Windows computer for syncing data back and forth--or even to set it up. Remember the "Connect to iTunes" start screen? Those days are clearly gone. You can use an iPad without ever needing a traditional computer. In fact, the traditional computer is overkill for the average person who simply reads email, surfs the web, and is content with a few basic apps. My father is 69 and falls into this category. The only computer he has ever owned in his entire life is his iPad. It's all he needs, and it's all the majority of people actually need.
Apple knows this. Yes, the Mac line is the best computer hardware out there running the best desktop OS. And yes, the Mac line is still profitable for Apple. But how well does the Mac fit into what they see as the future? I don't know the answer to that question because I am not privy to their longterm plans.
But is there a point where iOS devices so eclipse the Mac that this part of Apple becomes unnecessary? What happens then? Does Apple spin off the Mac into its own separate subsidiary company like it did with the Newton and Claris? Again, I don't know, which is why I like to see things like this post by T. Conrad.
I don't doubt that Apple has significant longterm goals strategically laid out, probably only known to an inner circle. If there's any clue to these plans, it might be in the massive data centers they are building. But even that tells me that these data centers are being built to support mobile devices, probably with services no one out of a select few really know about right now.
What I'd personally like to see is Apple create some kind of hybrid device that is more iPad when I carry it around, but still capable of being more Mac when I sit down and plug it in to a larger monitor, keyboard and other peripherals (this is where I believe Microsoft has missed the boat with knowing how to promote Windows tablets properly). But if this happens--if some kind of hybrid device is developed--it won't be sold as a Mac; it will be sold as an iPad with greater capabilities. And before this can happen, each OS has to merge closer together; or more likely, the Mac has to become more like iOS. Did we not see that with the recent release of the iWork apps?
Yesterday, on MacBreak Weekly, Alex Lindsay made this statement: "I still think we're in this very long curve where Apple's moving away from OS X to iOS and we're [Apple] going to spend the next two years explaining to you why you don't need your laptop." I agree.
That doesn't mean that no one will need a laptop (or desktop), but it could mean that Apple's not interested in perpetuating the Mac as we now know it into the longterm. They may be content to sell iOS devices as mainstream computing devices and let others make the trucks as something most people no longer need.
I don't mean to be all doom and gloom and certainly don't intend to spread fear, uncertainty and doubt to all of us who love our Macs. And obviously there are plenty of things that can be done on a MacBook that cannot be done on the iPad. But in the end, I truly believe the iPad represents a real shift in Apple's future, and they are going to continue to head in that direction. And this company has a long history of jettisoning the products that no longer fit in with their forward looking plans.
Mobile is clearly Apple's future. Mobile, including other platforms besides iOS, such as Android, is the future for everyone.