While mulling over yesterday's host of announcements from WWDC 2007, it struck me how much more coy today's Apple is about its achievements. All the information is there, but these days the company seems to be asking us to work harder to understand what the implications are.
As a case in point, take the company's seeming focus on Web 2.0. This isn't just about developing Web 2.0 applications for the iPhone, but is also reflected in its release of Safari for Windows, and indeed across the new media-focused Leopard interfaces - QuickLook, Finder, Desktop, Time Machine and Back To My Mac.
Now, in isolation each one of these announcements have something to offer on their own merits, but if you think about it, Apple is subtly moving toward a paradigm that could make sense across all its product and software offerings.
The Mac isn't over, of course, it's far from gone - the computer remains the essential tool for high-end and consumer level creativity. Apple's iTunes, iPod and Apple TV offerings also confirm the Mac's place as some kind of media hub.
But the philosophical shift is clear - it's not just about the computer any more, but also about the media. In a sense, it is the media. From the internet to music consumption, today's computing environment isn't just about creative tools. It's also about creative works.
What WWDC 2007 shows us is Apple's continued move to becoming an end-to-end provider of a complete digital lifestyle ecosystem.
And that's an enormous opportunity for developers - and will ultimately extend the definition of a developer, as the convergence between media creatives and software creatives continues, and Apple's developer tools grow more accessible.
I'm also pleased about the Back to My Mac feature. I anticipate using this a lot. I can see it as being of great use to anyone who needss to keep their data safe, but also needs to travel a lot.
I wrote about a system a little like this in October last year. What seems most intelligent in Apple's iteration of an information everywhere notion is that by using the server-side intelligence built-in to Mac OS X's Unix underpinnings, the new feature lets a user have all the access to data they need - without demanding Apple to create server farms so large they'd dwarf those of Google.
After all, if .Mac were to be re-jigged to offer as much disk space as that offered by most Macs, that would be nice. But, if 20 million Mac users were to buy into such a service, then infrastructrure costs (even without site admin, security and software support costs) would make setting the service up an incredibly expensive option.
Apple's implementation side-steps the storage demand by turning every Mac into a server, and using .Mac as the secure key to allow people access to the data they need, where and when they need it.
There's lots more to discuss - I think there's a lot of promise here for most Mac users, though I do think some of us may have been disappointed at the lack of shiny new things in last night's keynote. (Though I thought CoverFlow in Finder was pretty shiny, and the idea that iCal can auto-grab contact info and diary dates from Mail is going to be very handy).
If you'll forgive my rambling, at this stage in my ponderings, I'm coming to the conclusion that Apple's new paradigm appears to mean that for the Mac, the media is the message.
Such a proposition ties together every product and every service the company now offers in its ecosystem.
Whether you want to build software, create or consume films, music, photos or just surf the internet, Apple now offers a media-centric ecosystem all the way from the PC to the mobile phone.
And WWDC 2007 underlined this.
But you do have to "join the dots" to figure out what future opportunities this will offer you, whether you are a developer, a creative or a consumer user.
On a medium is the message tip, it does strike me how Time Machine's animation reminds me of a statement from the great Marshall McLuhan, who once said: "We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.".
Then again with a news-head on, McLuhan also once said: "People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath."
Edited to add: Incidentally, once Apple developers have picked-up experience working out Safari for Windows, I'd be extremely unsurprised to see the company release iLife for Windows. Jobs often remarks that there's nothing like iLife for Windows, and marketshare gains since the release of the Windows iPod, iTunes and Boot Camp/Intel clearly show that the company sells more Macs once it makes itself more relevant to the Wintel space. See, it's all about the media and the ecosystem.