Many media outlets got a sneak preview of Apple's next version of OS X, Mountain Lion, and the Wall Street Journal was no exception. The Journal was treated to a preview from Apple CEO Tim Cook himself. He discussed with the Journal the basic philosophy behind OS X updates going forward: "We see that people are in love with a lot of apps and functionality here," Cook says of the iPhone. "Anywhere where that makes sense, we are going to move that over to Mac."
Cook considers iOS and OS X as having "incremental functionality," which fits in with how Steve Jobs characterized the iPad at its 2010 introduction; the iPad is a stepping stone between the iPhone and the Mac, and OS X Lion was Apple's first step at bringing some of iOS's features to the Mac. Mountain Lion is merely the next iteration of that process.
"We took a logical pass at what the user is going to experience using these products to make it all make sense," Phil Schiller told the Journal in another interview. By changing the names of certain applications (Address Book to Contacts, iChat to Messages, iCal to Calendar, etc.) and bringing features like Notification Center, AirPlay, and iCloud document sharing to the Mac, Apple seems to have put consistency of experience at the forefront of its design goals. This is a smart move for Apple; with considerably more iPhone users than Mac users out there, creating a wholly integrated platform where iPhone users can sit in front of a Mac for the first time and feel instantly familiar with it is sure to drive Mac adoption even higher in the years to come.
Whether this convergence will also apply to hardware is another story. The Journal asked Cook if Macs will eventually run on the same ARM microprocessors as iOS devices, but Tim Cook gave a decidedly noncommittal "We think about everything. We don't close things off."
When the Journal mentioned Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 8 update, Cook shrugged it off. "I don't really think anything Microsoft does puts pressure on Apple," he said, calling any pressure that Apple may feel "self-induced." Indeed, the news about Mountain Lion comes at a time when Apple is the only major PC manufacturer experiencing positive growth in the industry; sales of non-Mac PCs have declined year-over-year, with some manufacturers experiencing steep losses in revenue.
OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion is already available as a developer preview, and Apple says it will be available for sale in "late summer." Now that the company has the resources to do so, it appears to be committed to yearly upgrades for OS X on the Mac alongside its yearly upgrades to iOS.