The facts were that Mac cloners had to buy most of their components from Apple (like motherboards) in order to be licensed by Apple to build clones in the first place. The Mac clone companies also had to abide by a set of miserly regulations benefiting Apple directly that non-Mac (the “IBM PC” clone markets) clone companies were never burdened with.
What was incredibly embarrassing for Apple is even with Apple calling the shots and regulating the Mac cloners egregiously, the company could not build better boxes at better prices–the Mac cloners were far better business people than Apple. What you have heard is merely Steve Jobs’ rationale for killing off Mac cloners and ensuring that Apple’s share of the market would always be 5% internationally–forever.
Mac clone companies accomplished all of what they accomplished in two years (2)–and then Apple with Jobs back at the helm killed them off and reversed all forward progress in that direction. Interestingly enough, by way of contrast, it took Dell over a decade to become the powerhouse clone company it became. Two years for Mac clones was not enough time for the clone companies to get their feet wet, let alone grow the Apple market to a size larger than Apple could support by itself–which was the whole idea behind cloning in the first place.
Flash forward to today–Apple’s OS X boxes are still at ~5% of the worldwide market–just where they were when Jobs killed the clone companies. If not for cell phones and mp3 players, Apple would have become extinct! What did Jobs do for the Mac or for OS X (the next version of his failed NeXT OS)? Just about nothing, is what. His focus since he returned to Apple was to diversify Apple away from the Mac. His attitude about the Mac and Apple’s OSes was self-fulfilling prophecy, as in “We lost that battle long ago” quote, unquote (the “battle” for the mainstream consumer and business computer marketplaces.) Jobs didn’t just kill the Mac clone companies–he more or less killed “the Mac” as well. What is a “Mac” today if not an x86 PC clone running an x86 OS–OS X? And, let’s not forget that today’s Mac running boot-camp can boot to Windows natively, too (which was untrue of any previous Mac in Apple’s history)!
The thing Jobs could not abide during his Apple tenure was competition. If he found himself in a competitive situation his instinct was to sue and then run to try and place Apple in a market with little to no competition–which he did first with mp3 players and then with smartphones.
If Cook stays true to Jobs’ product philosophy, what he’ll do is to try and invent another fad for Apple products and slowly but surely move away from all the areas in which Apple faces mounting competition right now–mp3 players are already pretty much “toast” as a market, Apple is getting squeezed hard in the smartphone markets, and who knows whether the touch-screen tablet market is anything more than a short-lived fad?
So, the question is where will Apple go next? Smart TV? Smart refrigerators and ovens? Who knows. It’s too bad that Apple wrote off the Mac so many years ago as a dead-end for the company. Now Apple is nothing but another “me, too” x86 clone company. There are those who cherish Apple today for its share prices, and those who cherished Apple for the Mac (back when Apple was known as “Apple Computer.”) I’m certainly not in the first group, nor the second, really. But of the two I have a lot more respect for the second group!