Since it’s inception, Apple meant to offer a combination of hardware and software to the consumer. Back in the ’70s this wasn’t really a novelty. Such was the paradigm of the Computer Industry in general. One needs only to think of IBM as a testimony to this claim.
And then, in the beginning of the ’80s, came an innovator: Microsoft.
Innovator in the sense that it pioneered the business of being a software company that sells primarily operating systems. Because, otherwise, neither OS it sold (the MS-DOS) was really novel, not the company itself. As a matter of fact, Microsoft is a bit older than Apple. But Bill Gates and Co were the right time in the right place to close a deal (with IBM) that would change their fortunes as well as the whole computer industry.
The decoupling of the Operating System from the Hardware and the widespread copying of the IBM personal computer, led to the boom of the PC industry: hundreds of manufacturers produced cheap clones of the original IBM machine, eroding its dominant position and swallowing its market share. This unprecedented expansion was not matched by a relevant expansion of OS offerings though. Microsoft became the king of the game.
The situation remained practically unchanged for 25 years until, in the middle of the ’00s, Apple, aided by the success of its ipod and itunes, started gaining market share again. The one stop shop approach started showing strength again and this trend, as far as personal computers are concerned, is still unfolding.
In 2007 enters the iPhone, a mobile phone with HW and SW from the same source: Apple. As with the original Apple computers, ipPhone made significant inroads in the Smartphone market. Soon it became its driving force and certainly the fastest growing, most profitable and most discussed product.
Android, much like MS-DOS compared to Apple, comes later. Much like MS-DOS too, it’s coming from a vendor (Google) that does not sell hardware. Much like MS-DOS it helps manufactures around the globe to produce better and cheaper smartphones. And much like MS-DOS (or Windows) suffers from bugs and instabilities and lacks in the user experience it offers compared to the iPhone operating system, the iOS.
But it doesn’t matter.
On it’s way to becoming the main smartphone operating system (if it’s not already there) it’s becoming better. And it challenges the wisdom of buying hardware and software from the same source afresh.
If we project these parallels into the future, we will expect to see a marginalization of the iPhone and its latter, much latter, shiny come-back with a vengeance.
But Steve Jobs is not around this time. And this makes things less predictable.