What’s The Center Of Apple’s Universe In The 21st Century? Hint: It’s Not The Mac Anymore

Back in the day, just a decade ago, the entire center of Apple’s universe was the Mac.

Apple had just completed a successful transition from classic Mac OS to Mac OS X (itself a legacy from Steve Jobs’ NeXT).

The iPod had launched a year earlier, and the iTunes Store had yet to see the light of day. For all intents and purposes, the Mac was Apple, as much as Windows and Office formed the core of Microsoft. What a difference a decade makes. Since 2002, the Mac has been relegated to third place among Apple’s hot selling products, just a notch above last place (now occupied by the diminishing iPod).

Apple Is Not Defined By The Mac

What is interesting about the change at Apple over the past 10 years is how quickly the Mac became relegated to the company’s third tier of products.

Yes, Macs sell in greater numbers than ever, and still maintain high gross margins.

The Mac, from Mac mini to MacPro and iMac and MacBook Pro in between, remains the darling device of discriminating computer users. But for how long?

Consider this for a moment. Apple’s iPad sells four times the number of Macs. Over 250-million iPhones have been sold in five years, far eclipsing total Mac sales since it was introduced in 1984.

Apple is no longer defined by the Mac. While it’s the most popular personal computer on the planet, the Mac has become just another device that interconnects with Apple’s burgeoning ecosystem.

Today, Apple is defined by mobile devices, the iPhone and iPad, not the Mac or iPod. When a customer buys an Apple product, they’re buying in to Apple’s walled garden ecosystem (which often resembles a benevolent plantation).

For example, iPhone and iPad apps are only available from Apple’s store. Apple wants to manage and synchronize your data from each device using Apple’s iCloud service.

This dramatic change is not reversible.

The Mac will never again be synonymous with Apple in the way the iPhone has become. Yes, our favorite desktop and notebook computer will remain a viable and profitable part of Apple for years to come, but not as important to the company’s objectives or bottom line.

As another sign that the Mac has increasingly become one of Apple’s least important children, consider this. From Mac OS X 10.0 Cheetah in early 2001 until Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, our favorite computer’s operating system was called, rightfully so, Mac OS X.

With the latest version, the Mac monicker has been dropped. It’s no longer Mac OS X, but simply OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion. The Mac is no longer in the driver’s seat at Apple. In fact, it’s not even in the front seat. The Mac lives in the back seat; not quite out of sight, but not nearly as important as it once was.






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