Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 8:17AM
On the CES show floor a couple months ago, walking the outer orbit of low to mid tier manufacturer booths, I saw mini laptop running Win98 for $88 in volume. Yeah, it was underpowered, it was too small(aimed for the education market), but was a reminder of how quickly the commoditization in PC's is accelerating. I'm sure 5 years from now, you will probably be able to buy a small laptop in a Liquor store, near the register next to the cigarettes and energy pill packs.
In phones, Apple surfs commoditization by collecting its share of revenue from Apps, which have a totally different profit profile than the hardware alone. I mean really, other folks do all the work to build these Apps(though Apple creates some and commissions them from others). The curation process at work in the iPhone/iPad Apps store must ask this question of everything at the gate; How high does this App elevate the platform above the commodity experience?
I believe that perfecting this curation aspect of their business model will also shape how Apple builds PC's. In an Apple curated-experience, App-subsidized hardware model, all software purchased for an iMac/MacBook will go through the Apps store for taxation. The hardware and UI itself could begin to mix & mash between the iPhone, iPad and iMac/MacBooks. I'd love to see the CPU power of a MacBook in an iPad form factor, with the best of the iPad/iPhone UI, while retaining the ability to run processor intensive Apps...er, I mean Applications, like Illustrator or Maya.