Originally Posted by solipsism
Apple has been approached to license their OS before. They said no. If they were going to do they would have done it when they were hurting. Now that they are successfully kicking ass in all their markets I can't imagine why they would finally decide to do it now.
This is where I don't agree.
My long term proposition is that as Apple moves into more areas, and the computer portion of their business shrinks as a percentage, even if it is growing well, it will become easier for them to license out the OS to a few, select, companies, under their terms.
Look at some numbers. If the iPhone does as well as some in the industry have stated it might, it could be selling at 50 million a year by 2010. At $350 average price, that would be $17.5 billion, almost two thirds would go to Apple one way or another.
If the iPhone line is successful, up and down a price line, and thus, Apple becomes a successful phone manufacturer, they could be selling 100 million phones a year in a few more years. It's not impossible, considering that a billion phones are sold a year now, and that number is rising. At $250 a phone (average), that would be $25 billion a year.
With a royalty for accessories, like they get now from iPod accessory makers, software, and whatnot, Apple could be raking in a great deal every year just from that.
If Apple is successful with their iPods over that time, even for less expensive models, sells ever more software, ATv, and music, Tv shows, movies, etc, they could be taking in $35 to $45 billion a year, WITHOUT counting computer hardware sales.
Apple may also get into other lines as well. Jobs said that they wouldn't be doing it now. Why? Because they have to digest what they are starting to do.
But, he left it open for the future. I don't doubt that they will.
The point to all of this, is that Apple could find themselves with a 25%, or so, share of their sales, coming from computer hardware.
If this is so, it gives Apple options they never had before, esp. when they were struggling, and got almost all of their sales from computer hardware.
If Apple had a license agreement with one or more companies to build "Macs", as their OS would be in good demand, they could control how those machines were built, and possibly, even sold.
With a possible chance to sell into a far larger market, they might very well take that road.
As OS profits are vastly greater as a percentage, than those from hardware, it could pay very well to see their market expand by several times from OS sales to OEMs', plus the upgrade business they would get as well.
Remember that Apple makes far more profit from selling one copy of OS X retail, than it makes even from the top model Mini. Those would be the upgrade sales. If Apple sells the OS to OEMs for $40, with the increased numbers of copies being sold, much of that would be profit as well.
Apple could make far more profit selling 50 million OEM copies of the OS a year, as well as several million retail copies, then it would get from selling 15 million, or more (depending on the mix), computers.
Apple's computer sales wouldn't dry up, though they would slow down.
I think we might see it someday.