Apple’s next move

Forbes published an article on Apple’s usual moves lately. It picked up a semiconductor design firm named PA Semi last year, sought to employ (and eventually won) one of the prominent brains behind PowerPC (the architecture Apple employed on its Macs until its shift to Intel processors in 2005) and IBM’s former blade server division, and has just hired a high executive from AMD’s graphics division. Whatever Apple does may or may not be as significant as what its competitors such as HP or Dell do, but it is much more likely to turn out to be something more magnificent than a mere miscellaneous junk.

Of course, it should be acknowledged that not everything Apple does is endowed with some Midas touch; Newlaunches has once reflected on Apple’s history of less-than-satisfactory products. These flops include Macintosh Portable (Apple’s early jab at making computing carryable), Newton (pricey PDAs years before Palm Pilot caught on fire), Pippin (an attempt for a gaming console far too expensive with too few games) and even Cyberdog (Apple’s early suite of Internet applications). Looking back, some of these products are so lackluster that it is hard to believe that they come from the same company that introduced iPods, iPhones and MacBooks to the world.

Even with a considerable number of failures, however, Apple has been quick to satisfy it’s customers in its own aesthetically pleasing and technologically amusing ways. It was not the first company to monetize on hardware MP3 players, but its iPod line-up ended up triumphant; it is not the manufacturer that offers the most affordable laptops but its MacBooks and MacBook Pros turn out to be everyone’s dream notebooks. Apple has a history for the past decade liberating itself from the casket that it is only competent in selling computers to the education sector, graphics experts, and publishing industry; it transformed itself into a company that markets the coolest consumer electronics as well as a mediator of creative contents like music, movies, and TV shows. What is so formidable about Apple is not that its products are perfect in every aspect, but rather that they outshadow their critical shortcomings with much more obvious merits that outsmart their competing products. That is precisely why iPods and iPhones, neither of them the first MP3 player nor the first smartphone available, are considered as the main drivers of innovation in the relevant markets.

It is too hard to speculate on what Apple’s next move may be. Prior to the beginning of its last major product category, iPhone, there were an abundance of rumors surrounding a cellular phone from Apple, and of course, a load of skepticism on the prospect. Before the official announcement of the iPhone on January 2007, the furthest extent one could expect from an Apple mobile phone would have been a fixed version of Motorola ROKR, a mediocre-at-best phone which offered sync feature with iTunes but was too clunky to be lauded as everyone’s music phone (and who remembers ROKR these days?) What had been revealed and become history was an entirely new mobile phone possessing easier-than-smartphone capabilities and a lively market of mobile applications availble via a few taps on the touchscreen. Whatever Apple plans beyond the iPhone, as in the case of the iPhone, likewise, may be inconceivable to the average of us. A semiconductor design team working in unison with a blade server master and a graphics guru–I cannot tell what they are going to come up with, but I can say that I am excited to see the results.

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