Under Steve Jobs, Apple became the biggest company in the world by tweaking existing technologies to build magical new products. Then Tim Cook tweaked Apple.
The rumors are in agreement: Apple is releasing a cheaper version of the iPhone. Maybe that news feels like a small retail announcement. If true, it's more like a keyhole into Apple's grand strategy since the death of its founder CEO.
The biggest technology company in the world is in a position it rarely found itself in the last ten years under Steve Jobs -- playing catch-up in the race for market share.
"Steve Jobs didn't care about market share," Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen said at a Quartz event in New York City last year. He wanted to invent amazing new products and sell them for a fat profit. In the 2000s, Apple didn't need to obsess over market share because it invented its own markets -- particularly with the iPod/iTunes store, with the iPhone, and with the iPad. None of these products sprung fully formed, and without precedent, from Jobs' brain. Apple didn't build the first mp3 player, or the first smart phone, or the first tablet. But what it built became the industry leader, the standard that all other companies had to speed up to meet -- in digital music, smartphones, and tablets. "The Apple playbook under Steve Jobs was a single playbook," Andreessen said. "He would invent a new product category, start with 100% market share, and then every day that goes by, lose market share until some terminal outcome."