In the business world these days, far too many companies are worried about this quarter’s bottom line, so they can make Wall Street analysts — a strange and often ignorant breed — content, along with their stockholders of course. If you tell them that your marketing strategy might not bear fruition for another couple of years, they might just sell your stock off and seek another avenue for instant gratification.
Apple Computer poses a particularly troubling company to evaluate in such an environment. There is no doubt a long-term plan in place, but they won’t tell you what it is. You can barely get information more forward-looking than the new product announcement of the moment. The rare exceptions include Mac OS 10.5 Leopard, largely because Mac developers need advanced encounters with prerelease versions of the operating system to make their stuff compatible, so the news would get out anyway. And, of course, it’s always nice to play the “Microsoft-is-copying-us-again” game to an eager press and Mac users who care about such things.
Myself? I don’t care who steals what from whom, so long as the final product works. And, despite what some of you may believe, today’s Mac OS is not completely original. The Window menu, for example, showed up previously under Windows, and some feel that the Dock was inspired by the Windows taskbar, although it really dates back to the famous NeXT Dock.
But that’s not the important thing, here. The real question is just what Apple’s long-term goals might be. Other than possibly an iPod phone, what other successors or enhancements should we expect to the iPod? Is Apple moving more into consumer electronics, meaning such things as high definition TV? Will the forthcoming iTV wireless media interface also include video recording and perhaps an interface that will make the people at TiVO jealous?