Apple's Most Important Product

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by elppa, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. elppa macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    What do you think the most important product to Apple is?

    I have an idea (and think the answer is fairly obvious): OS X.

    - Think about it, OS X is at the centre of everything Apple does, iPhone, iTouch, Apple TV, their Computers.
    - OS X allowed the company to move on from decades of legacy crud (QuickDraw, Extensions etc.).
    - Without OS X, Apple would not be in business, there core business is computers and they wouldn't sell many today with something based on OS 9.
    - The sheer amount of years and numbers of resources and money that has gone into developing the system (from the NeXT days to present day).

    There are some people who have these fanciful notion that Apple is a hardware company. Please suggest 1 piece of hardware that is anywhere near as important to Apple (that couldn't be replaced)?

    If Apple had to scrap the iPhone design, they could come back in 2 years with something very similar (if not better) without losing out too much. If Apple had to scrap OS X, they'd be finished.

    I'd be interested to hear your thoughts?
  2. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    Apple is a hardware company.
    The OS only runs on their hardware, legally.
    If OS X was the important product it would be priced similarly to Windows. Rather than the low pricing that it has.
  3. elppa thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    I can't believe people still trot out this view. A Mac is defined by the fact it has the Mac OS installed.

    If a Mac didn't have OS X installed, it wouldn't be a Mac, it would just be a regular PC. When you buy your Mac some of the cost is OS X.

    When Apple rolled out OS X in 2001 it secured the future of the platform for 20 more years at least. Apple bet the company on OS X succeeding, because if it was a failure, Mac sales would decrease, no iPod, no iPhone, no iLife, no iWork, no pro Apps. They would have been stuck with an ageing OS propping up years of legacy crumbling at the seams.

    Billions of R&D has been spent on OS X over the years, from the groundbreaking developer tools to the UI elements.

    All the real magic of iPhone is in the software. That's the one bit other companies can't copy. They can do similar looking devices, they can make touch screen devices, but the software is too advanced and to sophisticated to create a clone in a reasonable time-frame.

    Quite simply, I can't see any reasonable argument to say otherwise. OS X is at the heart of everything Apple does.
  4. iisdmitch macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2007
    Southern California
    I agree, OSX is probably the most important part. However they are a hardware company as well and their software can only run on their hardware legally. The reason it does not cost as much as Windows is because it only runs on Apple hardware. Technically speaking, most Apple software should be free to Mac owners, for the fact you can only run Apple software on a Mac legally. But yes OSX is probably the most important thing they produce.
  5. jholzner macrumors 65816


    Jul 24, 2002
    Champaign, IL
    Without Mac OS X they would be just another Windows OEM vendor. Their OS powers everything from their computers to the Airport Extreme base station. Without it, their products would be no different than anything else. It's not always about money. Who the heck would buy Apple's hardware if it were running Vista? I wouldn't and then I also probably wouldn't own an iPod or an Airport Express.
  6. JasonElise1983 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2003
    Between a rock and a midget
    ok...Steve Jobs settled that battle when him and Gatesie were interviewed together. Steve said himself that they were a SOFTWARE COMPANY. He also quoted someone else who said something like "people who make software would want to make their own hardware"...Steve said it as a jab at Microsoft. Anywho...they make hardware to sell software, not the other way around. The iPhone is software, the iPod is software, the Apple TV is software, the iMac is software. IT'S ALL SOFTWARE, in a beautifully designed package. That's why apple doesn't compete in the sub $400 computer market...they aren't trying to sell hardware. If all they wanted to do was move hardware, they would thrown windows on everything and sell comptuers for way less. Anyway...back on track.

    the iMac to me is the most important product they sell (other than OS X). it's the staple of how apple got it's groove back as a computer company, and the one that people seem to associate with Apple the most.

    second place goes to the iPod...we all know how that helped.

  7. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    I would have to say the Apple Power Cable or Adapter.

    How would we turn any of their products on without one?

  8. CashGap macrumors 6502


    Sep 15, 2007
    Music City, USA
    Agreed, if it's the Apple Foundation.

    If you ever hear a corporate officer say it's not always about money... short the stock.

    Corporations should ethically only exist to improve shareholder value. To do that, they should only take actions that improve long-term free cash flow and keep the principals out of jail.

    Anything else is a hobby.
  9. speedier macrumors newbie

    May 11, 2007
    i'd say apple's most important product is the iMac.

    OSX is most important to apple and apple users as an integrator of its entire product line.

    but on the face of it all, having an iMac is central to the sorta apple-lifestyle to fully fully experience the integration with other products like apple tv and stuff... iMac is where all other products would spawn out of / derive from, like some central device.
  10. bartelby macrumors Core


    Jun 16, 2004
    Where does most of Apple's income come from?
  11. tomoisyourgod macrumors regular

    May 3, 2007
    Liverpool, UK
    The Macintosh computer line (with OS X).

    I could live without everything else, iPods, TV, iPhone - but not the computers.
  12. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    At this point, as far as I am concerned, their most important products are 10.5.1 and Harpertown Mac Pros. :eek:
  13. question fear macrumors 68020

    question fear

    Apr 10, 2003
    The "Garden" state
    BWAH! Thank god I wasn't drinking water when I read this! Well said!
  14. sammich macrumors 601


    Sep 26, 2006
    Apple's most important product has to be the iPod.

    Without the added 'halo effect' and coolness factor, those 100 million would-be iPod owners (i know many people will have bought more than one, and some small number of them will have have apple gear anyway) won't have ever considered buying an Apple product. Now because this exposure, Apple is able to expand it's base core product marketshare by selling a product that isn't even a computer.

    This coupled with computers which look awesome and a fantastic retail experience, every customer coming in just for an iPod is also drawn into buying a new sleek macbook or iMac.
  15. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
    i have to agree with the OP guys

    and i think he explained it pretty well, and yet few of you seem to have grasped it

    OS X is not leopard

    nor is it tiger, panther e.t.c.

    OS X runs the Mac, the iPod, the iPod, apple TV e.t.c

    the reason we buy apple products is because of the ease of use despite the power of it...this is down to OS X in all of their products

    this is completely true

    :apple::)congrats ellpa on well observed and explained point:):apple:
  16. tomoisyourgod macrumors regular

    May 3, 2007
    Liverpool, UK
    the iPod is an important product agreed, but most important product with regards to work for me is the Macintosh. I could not live with my iMac, such an integral part of my daily life.
  17. PatchMac macrumors newbie


    Oct 1, 2007
    St. John's, NL
    I totally think OS X is the main Apple Product, it's super reliable, it's very nice to use, and all around, the main reason I switched to mac in the first place.

    The fact that OS X is sold cheaply does not make it any less important. If Mac hardware didn't use OS X, I wouldn't have changed. The fact that Macs were built for OS X, is why people buy them, it's an added bonus that they happen to be incredible machines anyways.

    I'd love to be able to run OS X on my custom PC, I wouldn't be planning on selling it if I could, but as is, OS X is the way to go, so be it if I have to buy a superior piece of hardware to run it.

    OS X all the way.
  18. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    One could argue that Steve Jobs is Apple's most important product. :p
  19. mpw Guest

    Jun 18, 2004
    I don't think any one element could work without others, that's Apple's 'product' the Apple-eco-system. No Apple product can operate without effectively without another Apple product.
    Pretty useless on it's own though: Ooooo shiny, but wait this blank DVD is just as shiny and far cheaper
    In the same way that Ford wouldn't sell many Mondeos if they stuck to the engine design of the Model T. Does that mean the Mondeo is Ford's most important product, cause I'm sure Ford itself would argue the T was kinda influential.
    But OSX could be replaced too. Fact is Apple is a hardware company first, no wait they wrote a really good OS so they became a software company...., but oh wait again, they wrote/bought a trendy CE device that they positioned in the market to give them dominance so they're actually just a CE company.....or a music retailer..... oh crap now I'm lost.

    As uncomfortable as it may make us both feel, I'm right behind bartelby:eek:
    Yeah that's true, Steve himself said at the launch of the MacBook Pro I thing that from then on they'd have Mac in the name of every product running the OS, then came the MacBook, iMac, MacPro, iPhone, iPod Touch.....well obviously those last two don't conform but Steve wouldn't spin any old ***** at a launch event would he?:confused:

    Just as it bet the company on every previous OS release, or the original Apple PC, or even their first commercial lease. That's business you either succeed or fail, failure can sometimes be down to a single product/decision/event, success is the some of everything preceding it
    You want into my thoughts? But that way madness is, you don't have the cojones my friend.
  20. elppa thread starter macrumors 68040


    Nov 26, 2003
    Thanks for all the replies. It has been interesting reading your thoughts. I am still pretty certain that my view is correct, so I have a couple of additional points for people to think about who still argue for the hardware side. I also believe OS X marked the epiphany in the reversal of Apple's fortunes (I know the company had started before that, but looking back with hindsight it appears that all future plans were reliant on having a truely modern OS)

    Computers running Mac OS X and iPod + iTunes.

    BUT, if Mac OS X hadn't got out the door there would be no iPod. Apple had to first ensure that their core business was strong first before expanding into consumer electronics.

    Notice that Steve's strategy:

    [1] Get Mac OS X out the door. (March 2001, although it was held up a little, they wanted it out in Summer 2000). Apple knew that without a strong foundation you might as well give up and go home.

    [2] Build/buy the great apps (pro and consumer) to show off the OS. (iTunes, Jan 2001).

    [3] Build the consumer electronics to work seamlessly with those apps (iPod, October 2001).

    So now you're thinking “iTunes runs on Windows — so OS X has nothing to do with it”.

    Well actually, iTunes has everything to do with OS X. Apple used OS X to launch iTunes and it was an OS X exclusive for a while before moving to the Windows platform.

    Moreover, Apple would have struggled to negotiate the iTunes store contracts with the record labels if the Store was open for Windows PCs. The record labels saw the Mac + iTunes + iPod platform as a relatively small test bed. Hence they were willing to use it try out online sales.

    Why did Steve come back to Apple?
    Because Apple wanted the NeXT STEP OS so bad, they brought the company. So Mac OS X still wins :)

    Besides, I'm not sure Steve would like to be shrink wrapped.

    And very few Apple products switch on or do anything at all without OS X getting involved. It is the foundation of Apple.

    Yes, but without it, everything else is useless. Want to run Aperture? Want to run Final Cut? iPhoto? Keynote? Better dig out that "unless" DVD. Again, OS X is the foundations, without it the building would crumble down.

    The Mondeo has evolved from the Model T over a number of years. It is relatively easy to design a new car once you have a model of an existing car. Designing a new operating system is completely different. OS 9 -> OS X, DOS -> NT. These are huge changes and only happen once every few decades.

    Just like it was so easy to replace the Mac OS. Oh, wait a minute, Pink, Taligent, Copland. All failures.

    No. The reality is Apple couldn't easily replace OS X. Again, if there was some patent dispute and Apple was forced by law to stop selling MacBook, they would have new, modified laptops out the door within 6 months. If Apple was forced by law to stop distributing OS X, they'd be finished.

    Apple openly admit it will be 20 years before they replace it. Name me one piece of hardware Apple has the sucess of the company riding on for the next 20 years? Can't be done, because there isn't one and none of the hardware is even designed to be on the market for 20 years.

    I said OS X is the most imporant. Mac OS X is one version of OS X, unsuprisingly used to power the Mac. There are other versions, used to power the two devices you mentioned, like Apple TV and future devices.

    No they didn't because they were all updates to the existing Mac code. To suggest OS 7 -> OS 9 or OS 6 -> OS 7 were as major as the transition to OS X is silly. OS X was a clean code base, a fresh start.

    The case for Hardware:
    - Designed in Cupertino
    - Manufactured overseas by contractors using an array of components made by third parties.

    The case for Software:
    - Designed, built, tested and maintained in Cupertino.
    - CEO says “Apple views itself as a software company”

    That's a pretty good case for software.
  21. CashGap macrumors 6502


    Sep 15, 2007
    Music City, USA
    OK... Good arguments.

    Apple *IS* a software company. And Apple controls it's hardware.

    My neighbor has a software company. He doesn't control the hardware.

    If Apple ever lost control of the hardware, they would still be a software company but their financials would start to look a lot like my neighbors!
  22. TheMasin9 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 22, 2004
    Huber Heights, OH

    in what context are you asking this question? if it is all time, i would have to say the iMac. This computer brought apple back from the brink of extinction when steve returned. If we are talking current importance, i would have to say that a combination of iTunes and OS X. I find it interesting how apple uses itunes as what seems to be a test platform for OS X features. Think about it, the new finder, spotlight, coverflow, frontrow, and many other features hit itunes months before they hit osx. Just some of my thoughts.
  23. mpw Guest

    Jun 18, 2004
    While you're right, it's like saying the most important part of my house is the door-key 'cause I can't use anything without getting in.

    I stand by my statement that few Apple products could succeed without another Apple product, and while OS X is the OS of many I don't think that makes it particularly 'important' in the way you seem to be heralding it. If there was no OS X Apple would just use another OS, if there were no Apple hardware they would sell OS X to work on Dell's PCs. The fact is its the Apple eco-system that is making them money, not a single product.
  24. Genghis Khan macrumors 65816

    Genghis Khan

    Jun 3, 2007
    Melbourne, Australia

    i think the context is right here, right now

    but even in all time, i reckon OS X only comes second to the original Macintosh...we haven't seen half the stuff that can be done with OS X yet


    so you're saying that the apple inventory is so integral to itself, that any one part influences another. understandable, but...

    ...OS X, again i'll say it - it is not leopard, tiger or whatever, it is the software that now drives each and every product made by apple

    if you suddenly made OS X dissappear, nothing apple made would work...and it would take them years to develop another credible OS, nevermind something like OS X...

    if you took away the iPod, apple would merely be a computer company again, a bit poorer, but still making great computers...because of OS X

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