2010 WWDC: The Driver’s Seat

The Macintosh put Apple in the driver’s seat for the personal computer revolution in the early 80s. But they were displaced by Microsoft and others, relegated to a ~3% market share at its low point. Since Steve’s return to Apple, the introduction of OS X, the overhaul of their traditional laptop and desktop lines, and the advent of retail stores, Apple has clawed its way up the market share chart.

But something happened with the introduction of iTunes and the iPod. It was the start
of an explosion for Apple. And it propelled Apple to a market position it hadn’t seen in a very long time— if ever. It dominated the music industry with a 70% share of retail sales.

The introduction of the iPhone and iPod touch have sparked another explosion. They represented the fastest technology adoption– perhaps one of the fastest product adoptions of any kind. Apple moved quickly in a new market, in which they now hold a dominant position. Now with the iPad release, Apple has beaten their own records, selling two million iPads in less than two months.

With well over 100 million mobile, handheld computing devices in the field, Apple is in the driver’s seat to lead the industry in the next important computing revolution. And this time, Steve is not going to give up that position quietly. He has been able to enjoy a few years without much competition in the space because they had such a lead when the iPhone debuted. But now Google is nipping at Apple’s heals with Android.

It is in that context that I view the 2010 WWDC keynote address and the rest of the conference. Steve didn’t mention the Mac or OS X in his address because that’s not where the battle is being fought right now. Apple still has a comfortable technological lead on the desktop with Snow Leopard. I predict Apple will have a stunning next-generation OS next year that will remind us why the desktop is still important. But for now, Apple is laser focused on the mobile market. The keynote was all about iOS, iPhone, and iPad. Nearly all of the WWDC sessions have a similar focus. And Apple only honored mobile applications at this year’s Apple Design Awards—no desktop standouts. All of that sends a strong message to developers and the industry. Apple doesn’t want to talk about the desktop. We’re all moving quickly to a mobile-centric future. And Steve wants to drive.

While I’m an Apple fan, I don’t consider Steve infallible. But he sure has made some good decisions in the last 10 years or so. I wouldn’t bet against him right now. That’s why we’re investing heavily in the Apple mobile platform and are doing our part to advance the revolution.

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