So is Apple saying “the network is the computer?” It sure seems so. WebKit, the guts of Safari, is open to developers, it lives on the iPhone and now on Windows. Apple is welcoming nearly anyone to hack it and make cool apps with the idea that with more applications more people will buy the hardware. This has been a successful strategy in the past.
What is interesting though is that Apple seems to be placing a lot of development energy on the group of protocols that are decidedly network-centric. Implicit in this is the idea that an operating system is irrelevant; no matter what type of device and what type of operating system, the browser will execute the application the same way on each.
This raises some questions. Is Apple changing its focus? Will it be less closely integrating applications with its operating system? After all, if all the functionality one needs is online, why work at optimizing desktop applications since network latency will mask any performance gains?
Clearly Safari on Windows is a strategic decision, especially considering that Jobs said that iTunes might be the last application written for Windows. The strategy looks to be develop applications that run over the network usable by any device to connect to Apple content. Revenue would be generated by selling content (iTunes), selling hardware to access the content (Mac, iPhone) and leveraging the ecosystem of software developers to create innovative applications which would essentially be the glue between content and hardware.
Will it be successful? Is the network-centric model ready as Apple seems to imply?