Who at Apple determines products?

satchmo

macrumors 68020
Original poster
Aug 6, 2008
2,268
2,076
Canada
I’m curious who maps out a product line for example, the iMac line.

Is this driven by the engineering team at the outset based on capabilities/ resources?

Does a senior product manager work out the different levels including specifications? He/she would run it by a VP for approval.

Or is all of this come from a top exec like the COO Jeff Williams?

Id love to see a documentary on how a product comes to life at Apple.
 

Erehy Dobon

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2018
527
369
First of all, you can forget about a documentary on the decision making aspects.

My guess is that Apple senior management has a multi-year roadmap of where they want any given product line to advance.

Most likely it is a combination of technical goals (e.g., new features) as well as price and gross margin targets based on projected costs of new components at the volumes anticipated to ship.

Can Apple make a $2500 iPhone with a gross margin of 50%? I bet they can. Will it sell better than a $1200 iPhone with a gross margin of 39%. Probably not.

We already know that a lot of ideas at Apple are born in a high security lab and most of them die there. Major features like Face ID aren't just randomly added at the last minute. They are planned years ahead and probably don't get added until they survive multiple years of prototype testing.

Same with hardware component choice. My guess is that Apple reviews pretty much every single commercially viable component related to its products. Great new camera module but yield will be 100,000 units and the unit cost is $50? Forget it, it won't be in the new iPhone. Maybe next year.

While iMac release dates have some flexibility, the iPhone does not. The market expects new hardware to ship in late September.

Apple follows the same hardware engineering milestones as everyone else: proto, EVT (Engineering Verification Test), DVT (Design Verification Test), PVT (Production Verification Test), Ramp/MP (Mass Production).

There are clearly multiple design candidates in the prototype stage. We have seen leaked proto units end up on eBay, etc. By the time a given product reaches EVT or DVT, the candidates have probably been whittled down to 2-3.

If Apple ever releases an ARM-based MacBook, most likely it will be the result of years of prototype research. My guess is that there are ARM MacBook prototypes right now in a locked Cupertino lab running Mojave, Catalina, and the nameless 10.16 macOS.

It was speculated that the initial release of OS X was delayed because of an internal mandate to have it running on Intel CPUs, years before Apple migrated to the architecture.
 
Last edited:

Abazigal

macrumors G5
Jul 18, 2011
12,188
9,984
Singapore
I’m curious who maps out a product line for example, the iMac line.

Is this driven by the engineering team at the outset based on capabilities/ resources?

Does a senior product manager work out the different levels including specifications? He/she would run it by a VP for approval.

Or is all of this come from a top exec like the COO Jeff Williams?

Id love to see a documentary on how a product comes to life at Apple.
Probably Apple’s design team. My guess is that Tim Cook and his inner circle (including people such as Phil Schiller, Eddy Cue and Jeff Williams) oversee day-to-day operations and corporate strategy. Richard Howarth and the Industrial Design team oversee the product and user experience. Jony Ive (while he was still at Apple) oversaw what he thinks needs to be overseen (i.e. how Apple products are used).

Engineering is at the bottom of the pecking order at Apple, as is expected for a design-led company.
 

AidenShaw

macrumors P6
Feb 8, 2003
18,486
4,485
The Peninsula
I’m curious who maps out a product line for example, the iMac line.

Is this driven by the engineering team at the outset based on capabilities/ resources?

Does a senior product manager work out the different levels including specifications? He/she would run it by a VP for approval.

Or is all of this come from a top exec like the COO Jeff Williams?

Id love to see a documentary on how a product comes to life at Apple.
There's a hidden chapel under the Steve Jobs Theatre where they hold seances and ask the Lord God Jobs what to do.

(I don't believe this, but it's as good an explanation as any for their product choices.) ;)
 
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