In 2007, Apple decided it would drop the “Computer” from its corporate title and become simply Apple, Inc. At the time the change seemed semantic or aesthetic, depending on your outlook. But the move proved more prescient this morning as Apple officially brought the number of mobile devices it makes to a grand total of eight. That’s one more iPod than Macintosh that exists in their lineup. Apple, it seems, has become a mobile device maker.
Though Apple doesn’t break down its quarterly earnings by device, it’s easy to approximate the math; out of $8.34 billion in revenue it earned in the third quarter ending July 21, the ratio of Mac (2.6 million) to mobile devices (15.4 million) was roughly 1:6. With a median cost of about $250 for iPods and about $1500 for a Mac, Apple’s revenue is split roughly 50/50, computer to mobile device.
Today the company launched a new site to help you navigate the dizzying array of six iPods, to say nothing of the two iPhones they offer. The site, called “Which iPod Are You?” raises another interesting question: what kind of company will Apple be in the next decade?
With billions and billions of iPod and iPhone apps sold, and new incentives to buy media on the iTunes Store, it’s arguable that the mobile and media ecosystem will be their biggest money-maker going forward. But iTunes’ new Home Share feature points to something else. Home Share allows up to five computers to share music and video over iTunes, to account for households that have more than one computer. But the feature also lets you share apps between mobile devices you own.
Right now, there are only two such devices: the iPod Touch and the iPhone. Few people own both, since their functionality is largely redundant. So what is Apple making room for? Why would we ever own several Apple mobile devices unless there were a few models to bridge the gap between iPod and MacBook?
Whatever is to come, it will be more complex and powerful than any of the mobile devices we ever dreamed of. Already, the iPhone is something of a miniature computer. At some point, they might have to add that moniker back into the Apple name.