Much of the news and discussion about yesterday’s iPad announcement by Steve Jobs has centered around the pros and cons of the actual device. This is easy to understand because the iPad really is quite the sexy little beast but that wasn’t the really important news to come out of the presentation.
While the majority of blog posts and opinions about the iPad have mentioned it in passing Steve Jobs told investors that Apple was taking back its supply chain – the complete ‘from breadboard to sexy industrially designed finished product’ supply chain.
You see Apple has a habit of locking up its supply chain. Whether it be paying LG $500 million for long term supply agreements to making the same money deal with Toshiba for flash memory Apple is all about making sure it has control. There is nothing wrong with the approach and for Apple this makes perfect business sense.
The only area where Apple had a problem with this is with the CPUs that power all of its products. The PowerPC CPU was nothing but a thorn in Jobs’ side that caused him to try and cut deals with Intel and move the Mac line to their processors.
But having to rely on outside providers for a core need of the Apple products has been a source of irritation for Mr. Jobs. The solution for this was found in the specs released at the announcement of the iPad.
1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip
In a single move Jobs has put Intel on notice that their days as a supplier are numbered. It also let Apple investors know that Apple would no longer be beholden to an outside company for an integral part of the product line.
Apple can now control their entire supply line.
More importantly though is the fact that by using their own CPUs and and operating system that will be specifically tunes to it – whether it be Mac OS X or the iPhone OS – this removes any future visits from the Department of Justice and the silly monopoly charge. If your OS definitely won’t work on any other type of platform (that was one reason why Apple liked the PowerPC CPU) or hardware then there is no monopoly because you are restricting its availability.
No more will Apple have to deal with little pissants like PsyStar or other hackentosh efforts because they have removed the principal agent that allowed these kind of things to happen.
Of all the people that I have been reading following the iPad announcement only John Gruber even recognized the importance of the A4 CPU
Lastly, there’s the fact that the iPad is using a new CPU designed and made by Apple itself: the Apple A4. This is a huge deal. I got about 20 blessed minutes of time using the iPad demo units Apple had at the event today, and if I had to sum up the device with one word, that word would be “fast”.
However even Gruber didn’t look past the sexy aspect of this. He is right though – this is a huge development by Apple and one that is going to have some major consequence going forward.
In a very subdued move Steve Jobs once more re-affirmed the fact that Apple products were once again a closed locked down system. In the process I can imagine he made Apple investors a very happy bunch.