updated 03:30 pm EDT, Mon April 14, 2008
Forbes: Apple's strength
Despite popular perceptions, Apple's primary strengths are not in hardware but in software, according to Forbes. The business magazine notes that while the iPhone is an increasingly popular smartphone, and sales of Mac desktops and notebooks are eating further into PC marketshare, it is actually software which makes Apple products distinct. The company is unusual in that it designs both hardware and software, something that was most commonly done in the 1980s and prior; it has not, however, actually produced its own hardware for years, a strategy it abandoned in part because it sometimes had trouble matching production to demand.
Forbes observes that modern Macs are based on Intel platforms, the same as those found in any Dell or HP computer, and rely on Unix as their core instruction set, upon which Mac OS X is merely a "candy shell." More basic hardware components are manufactured by a host of companies around the world, and only then assembled into Apple-designed configurations.
As a result it is said to be Apple's proprietary code, such as Mac OS, that separates it from rivals such as Dell. The company is particularly distinct in terms of the iPhone and iPod touch, which use a stripped-down version of a desktop operating system. While Microsoft has developed Windows Mobile for cellphones and media players, it is fundamentally different from Windows XP or Vista in many respects, and relies on hardware designed exclusively by third-party businesses.