Apple's Groundbreaking Partnership: An Open Door to Improved Support for OpenGL and Vulkan?

Is Apple’s Partnership with nVidia and Other Companies a Step Towards Improved Support for OpenGL and Vulkan?


Apple’s recent partnership with nVidia, Adobe, Autodesk, Microsoft, and others around the OpenUSD rendering/animation/CAD/3D-scene format has sparked speculation about potential improvements in support for OpenGL, Vulkan, and other standards in macOS. OpenUSD aims to provide consistent rendering across different platforms, which could incentivize Apple to attract more 3D software vendors to its ecosystem.

The text highlights two possible scenarios for Apple’s approach. The first is that Apple conforms to existing standards like OpenGL and Vulkan, which have gained popularity in film and game production pipelines. This option would ensure compatibility and interoperability across platforms, benefitting developers and users alike. However, the author’s gut feeling leans towards the second option, where Apple pushes for developers to support its proprietary Metal standards more aggressively, trying to establish Metal and macOS as the go-to solution for 3D software.

The article points out that Apple has historically shown a preference for controlling standards, which aligns with nVidia, Autodesk, Adobe, and Microsoft’s inclination as well. This preference for control becomes more apparent when Apple is in a position of strength. The article cites examples of Apple embracing open standards when it was weak, such as the iMac’s use of USB, JPEG, MPG, mp3, Postscript, and IP/TCP when it was trying to establish its presence in the market.

The author expects the next few years to be interesting, indicating that Apple’s approach will influence the future landscape of 3D software and standards. It remains to be seen whether Apple will prioritize conforming to widely used standards like OpenGL and Vulkan or push for developers to adopt Metal and macOS.

The discussion in the text also touches on the nature of standards in the tech industry. It suggests that standards often emerge when there is a clear winner in a particular space and serve as a means for competitors to band together and remain relevant. While standards enable multi-sided markets and broad participation, they can also be driven by the losers trying to compete.

The article concludes with a debate about the demise of Flash and its impact on web development. It acknowledges the performance issues and security vulnerabilities of Flash but highlights its contribution to web animations, games, and creative content. The lack of compatibility between Flash and touchscreens on Apple devices, along with Apple’s concerns about control over content, led to its exclusion from iOS.

In the end, the article prompts readers to consider the complex dynamics of standards, the motivations of companies, and the potential outcomes of Apple’s collaboration with nVidia, Adobe, Autodesk, and Microsoft.

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