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Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) loves to borrow and steal great ideas from other people. If it's not a desktop computing model from Xerox (NYSE: XRX ) PARC or a tablet design from Stanley Kubrick, Cupertino is modeling retail stores after concepts from da Vinci and Fibonacci, or cloning and then perfecting an existing plethora of music-playing gadgets.
So I'm not surprised to see Apple copying the famous "tick-tock" strategy from chip giant and business partner Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) .
The iPhone 4S makes it all so obvious. Every other year, Apple presents a drastic makeover of the iPhone like the sleek, 3G-enabled iPhone 3G or the radical glass-and-aluminum iPhone 4. The years in between simply get a speed bump, refreshed software, and perhaps some fresh accessories. Look for "Olympic Games" on your calendar. If it's there, Apple is going all out again. If not, you'll get the iPhone 5GS, 6X, or something in that vein.
In Intel's model, the company presents either a more advanced manufacturing process or a radically redesigned chip architecture in alternating years -- never both at the same time. Likewise, Apple makes its phones either faster and cheaper, or better and more handsome. You can set your clock by these guys.
Intel has used this model to stave off challenges by Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) , ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH ) , and MIPS Technologies (Nasdaq: MIPS ) for many years. Apple is employing a very similar tactic against a much larger array of competitors, but has already nearly killed Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) with this deadly weapon. It works.
"Good artists borrow, great artists steal," said Pablo Picasso (unless, as some sources say, he stole that pithy saying from someone else). Steve Jobs leaned on that mantra to fabulous effect. Now it's up to Tim Cook to keep the clock of iPhone progress tick-tocking. Apple is an important part of an even greater tech revolution that keeps Bill Gates up at night. Learn all about it in this totally free video report.