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October 12, 2017

Comments

Jim Glue

Re the "Apple Metal idiocy". Every strategy has pro's and cons.

Controlling hardware, software the way Apple does allows Apple to provide the best experience opportunity for their customer base.

A common important layer shared by multiple platforms helps developers proved a least-common-denominator experience to all platforms. Reduces the cost of multi-platform support. I can see why from THIS perspective, Apple's strategy is lunacy.

BUT - Apple doing things Apple's way allows them to provide a differentiated and superior experience. This has garnered Apple the absolute best customer base in existence. That is the balancing tradeoff for developers. Put more work into supporting multiple platforms balanced by access to Apple's very lucrative customer base.

And it's working. It allows Apple to move it's platform ahead on all levels (cpu, gpu, other supporting chips, OS, graphics system, developer tools) without waiting for any other company.

It also gives developers a huge customer base with similar phones that actually reduce the cost of development on Apple's platform.

Rich and large customer base, simplified development and support....is why even gamers still target iOS first.

Keep in mind that high end games don't run worth crap on low end hardware. Addressable market among iOS is on par and probably larger than that of "Android".

Tester

"Metal" is idiotic, as long as it remains Apple's sole interface to modern 3D graphics. Period.

This is a strategy that will uncouple Apple from the rest of 3D software development.
I can only speak from a hobbyist game developer's perspective but with the current market share this effectively means that many hobbyist projects will only support macOS via legacy OpenGL support because that's still needed anyway for those laggard users which are stuck with 10+ year old hardware and refuse to upgrade.

But one day this will be a thing of the past, too, and then for many of these projects it will mean "goodbye Apple". From the numbers I have seen among users of such software Apple's market share is even less than Linux!
And as this goes on it will mean less entertainment software for Macs than there already is, which will mean less young users, which will make the system uncool, effectively relegating it to business-only hardware, which will ultimately hurt Apple's bottom line, if private users jump off the platform.

Well, naybe that's what Tim Cook ultimately wants because making business-only hardware means you can skip the more expensive parts without lowering the price...

Jim Glue

Hi Tester,

I agree with you with respect to the Mac. Not supporting video standards makes development more difficult since the Mac is clearly an after thought for game makers.

And we can see that with the paucity of games for the Mac vs. games for the PC.

iOS is in a different position. Just like every PC is not a "gaming PC" for those serious high end games...every smartphone is not able to run high end games. Comparing the size of the "high end capable gaming smartphones"....Apple's numbers are a LOT closer if not better than Android's.

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@Jim:

But iOS too will suffer the same fate. However you cut it, being a minority platform and doing "your own thing" is a liability, not a strength.

Metal will slowly die and be supplanted by Vulkan, since Vulkan will work on Android, Windows and Linux.

Jim Glue

Hi Per,

You want to put a time frame on that and we can reconvene? We've had Apple's Metal for about 4 years and counting. How much longer?

While we are at it. Shall we predict developers will stop using ARKit as well?

Per "wertigon" Ekström

@Jim:

It's difficult to give exact numbers.

You've just been told you are in the early stages of Alzheimer. The doctors can tell you that you have months to years to live. Probably years.

Same thing here. It will happen, this is inevitable. It's just a question of how much money Apple is willing to burn on it first.

Tester

This all depends on how much extra effort developers are willing to put into Apple support.
And that mostly depends on how much return in investment Apple provides.

The problem here is very clearly that you get >90% of platform support in the desktop segment with one API, that is Vulkan.
To get to 100% you have to double your investment in low level development and deal with incompatibilities. Is it worth that much?

Well, obviously for most major game developers it's not worth supporting macOS at all so Apple needs to care about the ones that are actually willing to support their platform. And that's NOT being done by forcing a complete rewrite of a low level subsystem. In fact, this was one of the aspects that killed Windows Phone right out of the gate: The platform had no chance to get games support because all mobile games developers had to use OpenGL to get the remaining 90+% of existing hardware.

On iOS Apple can (still) afford to stand alone because the US market is large enough to justify the double investment for most developers.
But on desktop this clearly is not the case. Mac market share in private households is approx. 5% (most Macs are business machines) and most developers doing their math quickly realize that they might get more out of Linux support because far less double development has to be done.

One hobby project I am working on is seriously considering axing Mac support because we want to transition from OpenGL to Vulkan - but nobody feels any urge to redo all the stuff in Metal yet again, just because Apple cannot be bothered to come along or open up their platform for direct driver support for Vulkan, like it happens on Windows.

Jim Glue

We agree that it's far harder to justify Mac support. It's one of the things vastly different between the Windows/Mac battle vs Android/iPhone

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Hong Kong but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit www.tomiahonen.com Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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