The iOS Fetish

Like I wrote yesterday, I’m not particularly interested in doing any sort of roundup of the announcements from Apple’s yearly Music Event held yesterday, September 1st. However, there are a few things that popped out at me that I’d like to explore. Initially I was going to do some claim chowdah analysis and break down exactly how wrong Engadget was about the supposed iTV, but there really isn’t anything new to be said there. Anyway, Joel Topolsky is already spinning the announcements to say that Apple is so totally going to make those changes, but things changed at the last minute. Whatever douche, keep spinning.

What is interesting to me, and touches on the idiocy around the AppleTV, is the way that iOS was almost fetishized by the tech press during the announcement.

What I’m talking about is the fact that, at least amongst the pundits and analysts that I follow on Twitter, every product announcement, with the obvious exception of the iPod Touch, was met with a single question, “does it run iOS?” To which I reply, “who cares?”

It seems to me that the tech punditsphere has imbued the iOS with some sort of mythic splendor, mainly revolving around equally-mythical “apps.” When Steve Jobs debuted the new iPod Nano, with its multitouch screen, the cries began. “Does it run iOS? Does it have apps?” Things became even more fevered when Steve demonstrated the iPod Nano in the newly coined “jiggle mode.” “Oh my Lord,” the techies breathlessly exclaimed, “it is iOS! Huzzah, calloo and callay!” The introduction of the new AppleTV (not iTV you lackwits) was met with a similar refrain. “Is it running iOS? It doesn’t look like it’s running iOS? OMG are there APPS!!!”

The hilarity in all this was the fact that most pundits were basing their determinations of iOSosity on nothing more than the user interface being demoed. The iPod Nano looks like it’s running iOS, and it very well may be, but it also may be running a variant of the same proprietary operating system that all non-Touch iPods have run. The AppleTV may well be running iOS, in fact I propose that it should be running iOS given the proven benefits for low power devices that that OS brings to the table, but the interface was essentially the same as that of the previous iteration’s Tiger based OS. The bottom line is that the interface for these products has precious little to do with the underlying OS. A fact that constantly escapes the technorati.

Which brings us to the “app” question. It’s obvious that a good deal of the fetishization of iOS is because of the immense wealth of applications available for it. But name one app currently in the iPhone/iPad app store that would translate to either the iPod Nano or the AppleTV. I’m not saying that there isn’t a potential for applications on either platform. There are many talented developers out there who can imagine lots of things that I can’t. But as it stands right now “apps” for either device make no sense.

Given that, other than as a technical curiosity, what does it matter if the iPod Nano or AppleTV are running iOS, MacOS, or something utterly different? The answer is that it doesn’t matter. As long as the OS meets the needs of the device, who cares.