Apple has not previously been known to favor opening up its software to other hardware platforms. This control obsession has seen it lose out to Microsoft in the personal computer market as the IBM PC platform created a massive plug-compatible industry in the 1990s.
It has often been said that if Apple had opened up its Mac operating system to other hardware manufacturers, that Apple would have enjoyed Microsoft’s success during the first phase of the PC revolution. Perhaps, if that had been the case, Microsoft would not even exist today.
The iPhone has become the de-facto smart phone standard, eclipsing Blackberry, Windows, and even Apple’s own iPod sales. But, with an ‘open’ OS, could Apple be much bigger still?
For a while, Apple seemed determined to make the same mistake over and over again.
But, when Steve Jobs stepped down, Apple made a market-changing decision to allow a new iPhone operating platform, iOS, to be run on smart phones from all manufacturers.
Today the Nokia iPhone and LG iPhone are the market leaders in a smart phone market in which 85% of all smart phones sold run on the iOS platform.
Now, Apple is rumored to be ready to make a similar decision to open up the Mac operating system to all-comers. We’d suggest that this may be two decades too late – coming as it does just as the laptop and desk-top computer markets are showing serious decline.
In any event, Apple and iOS are now the dominant platforms in the growth markets that really matter. Apple’s stock reached a new high yesterday.