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Forbes: Software makes Apple, not hardware

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.

by MacNN Staff



  1. mblase

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Judge me by my headlines, do you?

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Well, Duh!

  1. Horsepoo!!!

    Joined: Dec 1969


    omg *facepalm*

    Captain Obvious aka Forbes to da rescue!!!!

  1. letmebe

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I haven't read the article... But isn't the success of the macbook and macbook air, heck even the mini and the macbook pro based on their design? C'mon!! Sure you can argue that they don't produce their hardware in terms of actually owning the factories that build the machines, but that's most of the industry. However, they are still in charge of the design of their hardware, and that is arguably the most important part of creating hardware.

  1. Jittery Jimmy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Forbes wrong again.

    Forbes is wrong. So wrong.

    Apple is not about hardware. Forbes got that right. But it isn't about software, either.

    Apple is about products. Apple simply combines excellent hardware design with excellent software design, resulting in very attractive hardware with a top notch user experience. And they put a high end marketing effort on top of it all.

    No one else in the consumer electronics business does all of this. Certainly not Sony, or Microsoft, or the mobile phone manufacturers.

  1. horvatic

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Uh, no one does!

    Uh, no one does! But Apple does develop and design there products where the rest of them DON'T!! They are the only ones that design and have built the hardware and the software for the whole Widget versus PC's that depend on Microsoft for the software.

  1. Athens

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Not totally true, Apple combines design with software to provide a product. While they don't design each chip on the hardware, they do pick the chips, and design in part how everything fits together into the design they want to market. This makes them both a hardware and software company. The iMac as a example is the best designed all in one computer. Had Apple just been software, we would see OS X on ugly wintel boxes. OS X and the hardware work together to make a better experience. While they dont design the chips in the iMac they did design the iMac itself, the concept and looks make it hardware.

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I think jittery

    got it right (in the fewest words ;)

    You cannot separate the software from the hardware and still have Apple.

    If you take the hardware away, you'll have Apple OS on whatever c*** machine J. Q. Doofus was cheap enough to buy.

    Seems like another Forbes arrow misses the shooting range entirely.

    Besides, what would the rest of the box industry do without someone to show them how to make ATTRACTIVE products?

  1. Johnny Niles

    Joined: Dec 1969


    You could say

    Software makes Apple.

    But hardware makes Apple money.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: you could say

    Or, in another way, if Apple was all about the software, why do they bother selling hardware? People don't buy the MBA because it runs OS X, they buy it because it's cool.

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