Monday, February 22, 2010

Apple Selling Internationally

As foreshadowed in earlier posts about how Apple's software platform supported international expansion, Apple has moved in the last year from making the majority of its sales in the U.S. to making more than half its sales internationally. According to Gartner, Apple's globally minuscule share has taken a step forward when Apple became a top-five computer vendor France. Considering that Apple claims half the US computer sales share (not by units, which can be a money-losing place to compete, but by money spent), a trend toward success in the international market could be big.

Since Apple's operating system offers a single backdrop for all Apple's third party development, and is optimized by Apple for the specific hardware Apple ships (or in some cases Apple-designed chips), Apple's control offers it an advantage against competitors. Moreover, Apple's object-oriented and runtime-linked deployment environment means that as Apple updates system components from which developers inherit functionality, those developers' products inherit Apple's performance improvements. This inherited optimization goes deeper than Microsoft's ability to ship a "fixed" DLL applications might ask to perform functions: Apple's runtime linking means that commonly-used objects in the Cocoa environment, whose object-oriented-descendants appear in applications from every vendor of Cocoa applications, will not only answer to calls from applications for help from system libraries, but will appear in developers applications themselves and offer performance, stability, and security enhancements as soon as Apple deploys them -- without need of a developer update. Every bit of performance Apple wrings out of its Cocoa environment on any Apple platform will be multiplied in user benefit because the improvements will appear on re-launch in every application on the platform.

As performance becomes a selling point -- and the battery life of mobile devices has long been a selling point -- Apple's power to influence performance deeply in every application on the platform will enhance Apple's ability to deliver a product users will experience as superior.

Oh, and Apple's localization scheme allows developers to deliver one application to all users, and on launch the application will launch in the best-fitting language supported by the developer automatically based on the logged-in user's language preferences. Even multiple users on one machine can experience their favorite language with just one application installation. The days of separately-bought applications in different languages are numbered. Can you say worldwide installation image? Can you see how Apple would be the preferred platform vendor for international hardware partners?

Add to this Apple's apparent interest in supporting new hardware platforms, and one sees the makings of Apple as the basis for user-friendly interfaces on hardware all over the world. (The position described in the article involves managing the bring-up of the iPhone's operating system on new platforms and requires understanding of design at the system-on-a-chip level.) Apple's touch-interface UI and its embedded/SoC platform are an excellent way to license Apple's way into the UI of high-end consumer devices like car stereo/navigation, home security, DVR systems, and the like.

Expect more Apple products in different markets.

Expect Apple's sales, PC and non-PC, domestic and foreign, to continue to improve.

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