The iPad As A Company, Apple's Products As A Platform
From a piece about Apple's platform strategy on The New York Times:
Hit products like the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad are fueling Apple’s logic-defying growth. The latest entry — the iPad, introduced in April — is on track to deliver $15 billion to $20 billion in revenue in its first full year of sales, estimates A. M. Sacconaghi, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.
At that size, if the iPad were a stand-alone company, it would rank within the top third of the Fortune 500.
Think about it: for any company on the planet, having a product like the iPad in its line-up would be the greatest success. Yet the iPad is one of the products in Apple's chain, and like others is deeply integrated with software, MobileMe, the App Store. This platform strategy creates the following win-win situation:
The more people buy iPhones and iPads, the more software developers and media companies want to write applications for them, as various as games and digital magazines. And consumers are more likely to buy iPhones and iPads when more entertainment and information applications are available on them.
So the value of Apple's products doesn't lie in the products themselves, but in the platform that supports them all. This extends to internet services, App Stores, media management, support, accessories.