Apple is systematically putting many initiatives together in a strategic way. Looked at in isolation, each is nothing for competitors to worry about because it looks like another puzzle piece. Taken as a whole, the effects will be lethal for the competition.
I have been thinking lately about all the bits and pieces of Apple's strategy. If one reads widely and puts into perspective all the items I'm going to look at below, a larger picture emerges. Ultimately, however, this article is part observation and part informed speculation. There are some elements of truth in the list I have created, but there's also a healthy dose of theorizing.
Of course, there is not doubt that Apple does has a long term strategy. Those who suggest that Apple is aimless and drifting and is about to fail based on product release cycles are not looking at the sum of the parts.
Here's my current working list of observations about Apple's strategy.
1. Seize greater PC marketshare. As the PC market implodes thanks to tablet cannibalization, there will be opportunities to exploit that effect. It's not just a matter of selling more iPads. Rather, there are several additional components of a strategy that can lead to a significant increase in Mac market share.
After all, the Mac's market share has been rising for many years now. Why not nudge that tendency along even more?
One of the things that can help is to lower, not raise the price of the entry level MacBook Air. Some thought that Apple would release a Retina MBA at WWDC, but now the strategy seems to be coming into focus. And that's to leverage the quality, thanks to advanced manufacturing techniques, and lower the price of the MBA to entice, via the iOS halo effect, those who still need a notebook computer. A Retina display at this point in the technology would force Apple to raise the MBA price and would be counterproductive.
Now, on to some speculation. Another way to grab a greater part of the PC market would be to launch a 12.x-inch iPad. The curent iPad Air, given its 9.7-inch size and capabilities, can only assume so much of the standard PC workload. However, a larger display iPad along with productivity improvements in iOS 8 could attract those who thought only a PC with a large display could meet their needs.
2. Develop the look and feel of OS X to further distance itself from Windows. This is really an extension of item #1, but deserves a separate entry.
It's been widely analyzed, even by Paul Thurrott, that Microsoft hosed up the Metro interface. This is another opportunity for Apple. One might phrase it this way: Given that Microsoft borked the integration of the PC and the (Surface) tablet, where can Apple, an expert in user interfaces and user experience, take the desktop/laptop interface?
To suggest that Apple change OS X look-and-feel for the sake of market share may be distasteful to some and annoy others. On the other hand, product design is not just about aesthetics. It also involves continued success in some quantitative way. Could this be why we're hearing about an OS X makeover in the style of iOS ?
3. Develop health and fitness monitoring by leveraging Apple's technologies for personal data security. Back in February, Apple published a greatly overlooked document entitled "iOS Security." In it, Apple lays out chapter and verse how it has developed a deep infrastructure for platform security in many areas. Here's the sobering table of contents.
Looking at that document, my thoughts turned to the recent court cases against Samsung. What are the valuable lessons learned from these trials? I surmise, in my own perhaps narrow view, that look-and-feel are easy to copy. Top level functionality is easy to copy. What's really hard to copy is a comprehensive security technology that's been folded into Apple's established ecosystem.
After all, who doesn't want their sensitive personal health information in the hands of, say, Samsung?
Next: Strategy Items 4 through 7