Today's Macs are not all that different from the ones built 20 years ago, according to an early Mac employee, but, he predicts: "We'll see a lot of changes in the next 20 years."
Donn Denman, who joined Apple in 1982 and was behind the MACBasic project, told MacMinute: "The next five years look good for Apple because the growth of digital media should help drive personal use, and hardware upgrades. The iSoftware suite is really strong, and ends up driving hardware sales. iPhoto helped me decide to buy a new digital camera, and all those big pictures helped me buy a faster computer with a bigger hard drive and big screen."
Denman sees software as of utmost importance for Apple: "Apple makes really great hardware and software. But Apple is a software company masquerading as a hardware company. When almost all the company's revenue comes from hardware sales, it's hard to make a big investment in software; however, it's the investments in software that have always driven the big jumps in hardware sales and market share."
He continues: "Apple needs to make another huge investment in software in order to grow again. Recent developments at Apple, and the marketplace make me think this is possible. Apple has always been an island apart, unconnected to the rest of the computing world. But now some bridges are being built to the mainland.
"With OS X, there's a bridge to Unix, and that brings in many opportunities for certain kinds of development. With products like iTunes for Windows and the iTunes Music Store there are two bridges: one into Windows software, and one into the world of software services. Apple is getting more connected, and that's good."
Denman expects that the industry's next leap will be in user interfaces (UI). He predicts this will be a "VR-style 3D application", saying: "We'll need a new pointing device, new kinds of widgets, and new ways to organize our data. At first, people will call it a toy, and won't take it seriously. But I think this is the future. In the last five years I've started to think this will happen outside Apple in the open source world, but I'd love to be part of any Apple effort to start another revolution in UI."