Thursday, February 25, 2010

Apple as a mobile/portable device company

In a presentation/interview in the context of the Goldman Sachs Technology & Internet Conference 2010, Apple COO Tim Cook was unusually forthcoming about the company's nature and direction for the future and where their various product lines fit into it.

As part of this, he again characterized the Apple as a mobile/portable devices company. Longtime Mac users may cringe at this, worrying that the Mac is in danger of becoming an orphan. Here are a few points to set your mind at ease.

First, the Mac is doing extremely well in the market, with growing unit shipments and revenue, and dramatically growing market share, particularly on the desktop and above the $1000 price point. This is a business no one in their right mind would walk away from.

Second, the Mac is rapidly gaining acceptance in corporate environments, suggesting the potential for a reliable, longterm market, despite that Apple's attention to this market sector has mainly been limited to resolving technological issues, like Microsoft Exchange support.

But most importantly, Mac OS X and iPhone OS, while not identical twins, are at least full siblings, sharing so much code that, user interface aside, it can be easy to forget there's any real distinction between them at all. They are, in fact, two manifestations of what is fundamentally the same system. As Mr. Cook said at the Goldman Sachs conference, this is a huge advantage for Apple. It means they get more mileage for the development dollar, since new technologies can be applied to more than a single platform with little modification, and also helps to impose the discipline that insures that OS X remains well ordered in its design, minimizing unexpected results from code changes (bugs). Apple is likely to expand the reach of iPhone/OS/X by using it in all of their product lines, helping insure interoperability and further leveraging their development efforts.

So, yeah, Apple is a mobile/portable device company, and a desktop company, and a content delivery company. Don't let their decision to emphasize the mobile/portable aspect make you fret that the Mac in endangered. It isn't.

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