Apple's strategy hasn't changed—and neither have pundits' takes

Apple's strategy hasn't changed, iPhones have just reached a different stage.


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Punditry 101 lesson time: If you want to write about Apple, it’s a lot easier if you just ignore some stuff.

Writing for The Guardian, Alex Hern says “Apple is tired of making Coca-Cola and now wants to sell champagne.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Christopher Cowan and Jason Davies.)

Yes, Apple, the company that has been routinely pilloried as elitist for selling device that are too expensive, is now retroactively the device-maker for everyone. The Macalope wanted to make a reference to The Lathe of Heaven here as he is wont to do when tackling reality-challenged pieces, but he sees he did that already when writing about a different piece by Hern and he has a strict “one The Lathe of Heaven reference per customer” policy.

Pity poor Rob Enderle who has not taken a good Ursula K. Le Guin-based barb in years. The Macalope can picture him now, driving slowly past various sci-fi and fantasy conventions in his El Camino, shouting out nonsensical things, hoping someone will respond with even a Left Hand of Darkness-based jab, let alone a pointed reference to The Earthsea Trilogy. Sad.

Apple’s mobile product lines, like the iPhone and iPad, have suggested that it wants to make the Coca-Cola of the technological world.

Hern’s thesis is that Apple used to only make one kind of iPhone. Now it makes several and may be introducing a “Pro” iPhone in the fall. This is new and represents a change in Apple’s thinking because hand wave, shadow puppets, monkey on a unicycle, and there you have it.

Apple, of course, has made “Pro” products for years but… let’s just kind of pretend it didn’t. Heck, even its Jobs-mandated simplified product matrix of the late 1990s was divided into “Consumer” and “Pro.” And its enforced simplicity was largely driven by Apple’s need to focus and reduce costs, rather than that being the “right” way to do things all the time.

None of this is new at all. Apple used to make one kind of Mac. Then it didn’t. Apple used to make one kind of iPod. Then it didn’t. Not only is this not new, this is literally Apple’s strategy. Enter a market with one product that redefines the experience, then iterate it and continue to expand the lineup to take more profit share. Hern belabors a quote from Andy Warhol about how when you and Liz Taylor and the president all drink Coke you’re all drinking the same kind of Coke, but the Macalope’s pretty sure George W. Bush didn’t use a blueberry iBook like the horny one did.

If anything the shocker of the last few years is the company’s seeming abandonment of the professional desktop computing market, something that runs in complete opposition to Hern’s thesis and is not mentioned because we’re pretending Apple only makes mobile devices. Let us not get bogged down in annoying “facts” which are the molasses-covered walkway of going to your punditry job in the morning.

Just because you woke up this morning and noticed Apple’s strategy being implemented doesn’t make it a change in strategy.

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