Musings from Dennis: is Apple’s product line getting too bloated?

Sometimes I wonder if Apple’s product line is getting too bloated. Do we have too many models of the company’s varied devices?

Steve Jobs’ product purge

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he drastically trimmed the company’s product line. He reduced the number of Apple products by 70%.

Among the casualties was the Newton digital personal assistant and several Macs. 

Apple had been producing multiple versions of the same product to satisfy requests from retailers. For instance, the company was selling a dozen varied versions of the Mac. Moving forward, Jobs’ strategy was to produce only four products: one desktop and one portable device aimed at both consumers and professionals. For professionals, Apple created the Power Macintosh G3 desktop and the PowerBook G3 portable computer. For consumers, there was the iMac desktop and iBook portable computer.

Today’s Apple line-up

Things have changed a lot since then. We now have two laptops (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro — the latter in two different sizes), three desktops (the Mac Pro, Mac mini, and iMac — the latter in two different sizes), four iPads (iPad, iPad mini, iPad Air, and iPad Pro — the latter in two different sizes), and five iPhones (iPhone SE, iPhone mini, iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max). Then there are headphones/earbuds available via Apple’s own brand as well as its Beats subsidiary.

Is this a problem?

I’m not recommending a major product purge. But do we really need an iPhone mini and an iPhone SE? Wouldn’t it be simpler if Apple “absorbed” the Beats subsidiary and just branded the products with the Apple brand?

Jobs said, “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” Perhaps it’s time Apple reconsidered that advice.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.