Thursday, June 19, 2008

the cards are (mostly) on the table

If Apple's direction seemed uncertain before WWDC '08, it no longer does. They may still (probably do) have some surprises in store, but the overall shape of their plans is coming into focus.

There are three businesses to which Apple is unshakably committed: Mac OS X and the full-blown Macintosh environment, the iPhone and the version of OS X shared by it and the iPod Touch, and iTunes media sales and distribution.

Each of these is an inclusive category, not just a specific set of current products. For instance, the Mac business includes Mac OS X Server and the Xserve, while the iTunes business includes the Apple TV. The iPhone business is likely to grow to include new Touch products which may or may not be phones, as well as becoming the conceptual home for the new MobileMe online service.

There's a lot of crossover and synergy between them, and new ideas are more likely to take root if they apply to at least two, or better yet to all three, but each has integrity in itself and could stand alone as an independent business.

That's a very strong position for Apple, and a very clear statement of who they perceive themselves to be at this point in time and what they intend to do over the near-to-mid term.

What they might do in the long term is a more open question, and is likely to be driven as much by match-ups between market opportunities and the company's core competencies as by any description of what businesses they're in.

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