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20 February 2007



Apple was not positioned to be a mass market product. It was classier, pricey and was perceived as a high end product. It had its niche. Microsoft, on the other hand wanted to be on every desktop. And you can see their differences in strategy in their pricing, for example. But, yes, Apple lost its way while Microsoft surged forward.

If you can predict success, you take the fun out of the game. It is because you cannot predict success, you make an educated gamble. If you are able to convince the markets that your direction is the right one, well, you succeed. I suppose this is why you want to listen to what the industry leaders are thinking. If the majority of us buy into the industry leaders' thinking, I am sure we will end up there. And if the majority disagrees, we all will head in another direction.

History is written by those who win and not necessarily by those who are right.

I must say your blog has piped up my curiosity. I must read that book now.

Mary-Louise Boyd

I work for Guy Kawasaki, and I would like to thank you for your comments about Guy and his blog!


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Apple's strategy today is not Apple's strategy of yesterday. Apple actually is quite schizophrenic strategically these days but you really only see it if you look deeply into the technology.

The most visible clue is the switch between PPC and x86 chips. Apple secretly created a parallel set of technology based on x86 and held that development secret in the face of demands for x86 versions of their applications and OS until Intel switched out of their very hot netburst architecture into a speedy, but cool architecture.

Apple has put in the flexibility into its technology that they are able to switch horses in a way they never could before. Their actual strategy is to pick and choose areas they want to enter and choose the best available entrant and give it a bit of Apple polish, eventually integrating it into the Apple ecosystem.

Safari? It's the best KHTML variant browser around. OpenDirectory? It's the best LDAP implementation, and so on and so on. What's different now is that there's an entire ecosystem of code that's very competent engineering-wise but generally aggressively ugly and poorly planned from a user experience perspective. Apple can make bets on these software technologies, incorporate them into programs all the while leaving a way out if Apple falters. Even OS X itself would be able to be replaced if Apple injected its frameworks into GNUstep. This leaves Apple's "proprietary" technology only proprietary in its polish, its artistic vision, its insistence on an excellent user experience. This is something that other technology companies have failed to do, consistently, for decades and is a viable strategy no matter the twists and turns of their industry.

Apple's multiplatform compilers mean there's no hardware lock-in. Apple's picking OSS technology to base its own offerings on means there's no lock in. Is this the same proprietary technology of the Apple II and 1984 Macintosh? Not in the least.

The idea of "strategic resilience" is quite good. Pointing to today's Apple as an exemplar of how not to do it? not so much.

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