Apple’s Grand Strategy

Grand Strategy

Grand Strategy is not about winning the war, its about winning the peace. It’s not about destroying your competitor, its about preserving who you are. It’s not about moving toward a destination, it’s about knowing what your destination is.

Too many countries and too many companies lose sight of their Grand Strategy in their desire to win the war. They forget why and what they’re fighting for.

The fact that Apple started Tuesday’s event with a repeat of the video shown during their WWDC event clearly demonstrates that they have a Grand Strategy and that they are determined to be guided by that strategy first, and foremost.

Some pundits seemed to miss, dismiss or ignore the importance of that video. In doing so, they’re missed, dismissed and forfeited their chance to understand Apple.


— Microsoft makes its money by licensing software to hardware manufacturers.
— Apple makes its money by selling hardware to end users.
— Google makes its money by attracting your attention with free services and then selling your attention to advertisers.

If you were Apple, what could you do to enhance your strengths while weakening or negating your competitor’s strengths?

Strategy #1: Focus on the user experience.

It’s perfectly fine not to care about quality. What’s not perfectly fine is criticize those who do care about quality for seeking it out and enjoying it.

Strategy #2: Give away your software in order to make your hardware more valuable and your competitor’s software less valuable.

AAPL’s business model is hardware. Giving away a free OS is a natural step. Puts even more pressure on MSFT though. ~ Sameer Singh (@sameer_singh17)

Strategy #3: Make your platform so valuable that your competitors will feel compelled to put their services on your platform.

I destroy my enemy when I make him my friend. ~ Abraham Lincoln


Apple is very consistent. Worth remembering that in ’01 they bought SoundJam (which was $50), renamed it iTunes and gave it away for *free*. ~ Carl Schlachte, Sr. (@carlsuqupro)

Make Software Free
— Make all Operating System software free.
— Make all Consumer software made by Apple free. (iWork — Pages, Numbers, Keynote — iLife — iPhoto, iMovie, GarageBand — iTunes Movie Trailers, iBooks, Maps, Find my iPhone, Podcasts, Keynote Remote — 20 apps in all.)

I estimate the drop in OSX and iLife/iWork prices means about $450 million foregone software revenues for Q4. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

Folding reporting Software into iTunes now makes sense: Software revenues were going to go to zero. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

Make The Look And The Feel Of The Software The Same
— Update (almost) all Apple consumer software;
— Make (almost) all Apple consumer software available across all screens (iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, Macs and Apple TV).

Make Online Software Cross-Platform
— Create on-line versions of on-device software;
— Make on-line versions free;
— Make on-line versions of the software look and feel like the on-device software.
— Make on-line software collaborative.

No iCloud account required to open Pages files? Nice! Collaboration? Very nice! ~ Joseph Thornton (@jtjdt)

iWork collaboration means … I’ll never have to open Google Docs again! ~ Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie)

Unify Hardware
Almost all new iPads & Macs are:

— Retina Screen
— 64 bit

“The iPad is 64 bit. Windows is, by and large, still 32 bit. Enough said.” ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

— A7

Apple’s messaging of the A7 in iPad: desktop-class architecture. No desktop needed. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

— M7
— Lightening Cables (except iPad 2)
— Touch ID

Lack of fingerprint scanner in iPads points against it being an ecosystem play. Convenient in phones, not needed in tablets. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

I respectfully disagree. There is not a doubt in my mind that the next generation of Apple tablets AND notebooks AND desktops will have Touch ID. Why? Many reasons, but one is that Touch ID is a habit. Once people get used to it, they’ll want it everywhere.

Unify Software

By making the operating systems free, and by extending updates as far back as practicable, Apple is doing its very best to remove fragmentation and consolidate their devices on the latest operating system versions.

Apple’s free software is the ultimate fragmentation fighter. ~ Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken)

Target Usage & Engagement

“Usage share is what’s important to us.” ~ Tim Cook

Apple is not after total share, they’re after meaningful share. If a tablet owner isn’t using their tablet, they’re of no use to the platform. And if they using they’re tablet but not engaged in activities that strengthen the platform, they’re of no use to the platform.

“Tim Cook says Apple has sold 170m iPads and iPad usage is 81%.” ~ Ed Baig (@edbaig)

Eighty-one percent of the usage share. Now THAT’s meaningful share.


1) Apple showed an incredibly strong commitment to the Mac. While others are looking for a PC exit strategy, Apple is making it clear that they’re all in.

Apple didn’t get the memo that Apple killed the PC market. ~ Jay Yarow (@jyarow)

If you still had doubts that Apple thinks notebooks still have a role to play just look at the line up & the price points they now have. ~ carolina milanesi (@caro_milanesi)

2) Apple made it clear that they are committed to the tablet as a category. They literally mocked those who make tablets that are PCs and PCs that are tablets. Anyone who thinks that the iPad lines and the Mac lines are ever going to unify really need to give the matter another think.

3) Apple made two pricing moves that show that they feel they are totally alone in the premium tablet space.

First, they dropped the iPad Mini by $30 (to $299), rather than the traditional $100 dollars, then they INCREASED the price of the Retina iPad Mini by $70 (to $399).

Second, instead of dropping the price of the iPad 4 to $399, they retained the iPad 2 and at $399.

Apple has a total lock on 10″ tablets. Question is the smaller cheaper space. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Those two moves make it abundantly clear that Apple thinks it is dominating that sector and that they don’t need to make price concessions.

Wondering if Apple was thinking about the weakness of the Android tablet offer when it priced the mini. Limited competitive pressure. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Further, by offering the iPad 2, instead of the iPad 4, as the low cost large screen iPad, Apple is pushing buyers up market to their higher quality and higher priced iPad Air.

Apple may not have a lock on the 7-8 inch tablet space, but their pricing indicates that they have a lock on the PREMIUM 7-8 inch space and – so far as platforms and profits go – that’t the only space that matters.

Apparently Apple is not worried about the competition. Instead, they think that the competition should be worried about Apple.

A Week With OS X Mavericks

As I watched Apple announce and demonstrate many of the key new features in OS X Mavericks, I was continually struck with the same thought about the many features being shown. To me, they all seemed very useful.

In fact, the last few years it seems I have had the same feeling with each and every release. Each time its gets better and each time OS X gets even more useful features for desktop and notebook computer users. I’ve been using Mavericks for a week now and here are a few of my stand out experiences.

Surfing On Mavericks

Perhaps it is fitting that with this version of OS X named Mavericks, which is named after the epic big wave surf spot near Half Moon Bay, CA, Apple has released hands down the best web surfing experience on a Mac yet. The new Safari is noticeably faster. Which is saying something in an age of micro-second performance increases. Browsing the web simply feels snappy and quick.

Scrolling however, something we all do many times a day, is now super smooth and more like scrolling on an iPad or iPhone. Scrolling in this new version of Safari simply needs to be seen to be fully appreciated. I compared it to my other Mac running Lion and found that scrolling in Mavericks is noticeably smoother and more fluid. Making reading while scrolling feel like an entirely new experience.

Shared links is also a feature on the new Safari I found myself using more than I thought. I spend a lot of time on Twitter but not everything in my timeline is a link. I found myself using the shared links features to just filter what people I follow on Twitter are linking to.

Multiple Display Features

When I’m stationary at my home or work office, I use several monitors. I have a theory, the more monitors your use, the more productive you can be. It’s true for me at least. So it was no surprise to me, given my workflow, that I appreciate the new multiple display features.

In particular, the menu bars and docks are now available on all monitors, which is extremely handy. It may seem like a little feature but it’s actually a big deal in increasing efficiency of workflow when using multiple monitors. You kind of feel like you are using three actual Macs when in this multi-screen mode.

Another aspect of the new multiple display features I found quite useful was AirPlay display. This new feature lets you turn any TV connected with Apple TV into a secondary display. This has been extremely useful for me because I often work with others on presentations or data gathering in a collaborative environment. We do this through Apple TV connected to a TV in our conference room. Usually I just Airplay my display which will mirror my Mac’s screen to the TV. Now we can use the TV as a separate display to keep specific data on screen while we work collaborate on the other.

Interactive Notifications

When Apple added notifications to OS X, it was one of the features I was looking forward to the most. Yet once I started using them, I immediately felt it would be nice if I could delete an email or respond to one right from the notification.

After having and using interactive notifications on my developer preview of Mavericks, it is hard to imagine living without it. Chalk this up as a feature I hope comes to iOS notifications on iPad.

Overall Performance Increases

Apple lists several new features to Mavericks which they call “advanced features.” These advanced features, like app nap, timer coalescing, compressed memory, and more, are all designed to optimize the performance of your Mac. These optimizations lead to speedy and more responsive experiences with things like apps, the web, etc., but will also lead to better battery life gains.

I’ve been testing OS X Mavericks on a 13″ rMBP which is not my every day machine. I’d have liked to compare exact machines to quantify some battery life gains but I don’t have a second of the exact same machine. Some of these points are hard to quantify but I am including them to make an observation and propose a theory.

I’ve bought and moved to the new MacBook Air 13″ running Intel’s latest low power but high performance 4th generation core processor code named “Haswell” as my everyday machine and I’m running OS X Mountain Lion. Even without running OS X Mavericks the battery life I am getting on this Mac is profound and transformative. It is more than double what I was getting with my MacBook Air of two years ago. I’m planning a full article on my experience with this product but the bottom line is I can work all day in meetings, take notes, browse the web, etc., and I no longer need to worry about plugging in my notebook.

My theory is that OS X Mavericks is going to increase the battery life even more on this new MacBook Air–and all Apple notebooks for that matter–when it launches. The 2013 MacBook Air already has industry leading battery life and my guess is that OS X Mavericks will make it even better.

Overall, Apple is continuing their trend of adding new and useful features on an annual basis. But more importantly, in the grand scheme of things, OS X Mavericks represents Apple’s commitment to innovate uniquely for different form factors. Apple has drawn a line in the sand and stated with their actions that they believe software for the PC is different and should be treated different than software for tablets and smartphones. This does not mean all our screens are islands- quite the contrary. They share experiences and get more tightly integrated relationships in the multi-screen reality we live in. But it does mean that Apple is committed to delivering the best desktop and notebook computing experience possible. Mavericks represents this for Apple. Evolving computing is all about making computing accessible and enabling solutions that makes computing easy, effective, and convenient. Mavericks delivers on this promise.

When Mavericks comes out the experience scrolling with Safari and the advanced features leading to better system optimization and battery life alone will be worth it for me.