Apple Benefits from a Tight Focus

  • February 24, 2010
  • Scott

Fascinating notes were taken at a talk Tim Cook gave earlier today, in which he explicitly laid out the fact that Apple benefited from its narrow product focus, a $40B company whose entire product portfolio could fit on a single table.

So given that focus, why invest in custom silicon?

“We felt that we had the best knowledge of what we wanted the silicon to do,” he said.

By designing its own silicon, he said, Apple can create chips that are best-suited for the company’s products, allowing them to run cooler and more power efficient.

“Apple has, for years, been in the silicon design business,” he said. “When we were on the PowerPC architecture, Apple always personally crafted the northbridge and southbridge chipset, and so it’s not new to us.”

In other words, even when it appears that they are straying from their focus, Apple’s management team has identified an opportunity to use their laser-focus to their advantage, upstream and downstream of the core product the consumer is buying.  (In my way of thinking, silicon is downstream, and retail would be “upstream” of the product itself)

Coincident to this talk, there was new data out showing that the iPhone’s unit shipments *and* market share grew more than any of its rivals in the smart phone space (and honestly, the research firms are being generous when they apply the “smart” label to some of the phones included).

And meanwhile, they’re getting some good news from their major US partner: AT&T.  A recent report from PCWorld shows that AT&T has dramatically improved the reliability and speed of its network.  Not that I can feel these improvements from a particular square block in downtown San Francisco (and the AT&T network gets its lowest scores in San Francisco!), but I’ll take the study at its word that on the whole these improvements are real.

Oh, and, happy birthday, Steve.

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