If the recently hyped Google Goggles (AKA Project Glass) aren’t vaporware, they represent a classic move from the Apple playbook:
Invent the products that replace your best-sellers
I’m thinking of this in terms of Glass replacing Android handsets. Apple doesn’t wait for a competitor to offer something better than their products — they control the killing-off of their best-sellers with each next-generation release. While some companies delay innovation in attempt to extract every ounce of profit (and increasing margins) out of their products, Apple doesn’t leave their timelines, forecasting, and supply-chain in the hands on it’s competitors.
Don’t compete head-on (Android v. iOS)
Android is making great progress, but it’s an head-on fight; and advancements are always compared to the iPhone. Sure, there’s money to be made with Android handsets — but it’s a “me too” game.
Change the conversation (iPad vs. everything else)
Tablet computing is hot right now; but so far, trying to capture a piece of the iPad market (AKA the Tablet market), is a losing proposition. Apple owns this segment. Instead of playing catch-up, change the conversion. Invent a new platform, and own it’s market segment instead.
Of course, as nice as all of this sounds, daringfireball has the right interpretation: This vaporware R&D fluff looks more like Microsoft or Nokia than Apple. Apple wouldn’t say “we’re exploring ideas for a future product that will change the world.” Apple would just do it.