Will Apple's iOS 8 Take a Back Seat to Mac OS X 10.10?

Reports have begun to surface that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) plans to push out some of the improvements that it had planned for its next version of iOS to focus more on its next iteration of Mac OS X. While this may seem to make sense in light of the fact that iOS recently underwent a fairly massive change, this doesn't really make a whole lot of financial sense.

iOS is much more valuable than Mac OS
Take a look at the most recent device sales data from Apple:

Apple's unit shipment data by product category shows iOS dominates MacOS. Source: Apple. 

In the most recent quarter, Apple shipped approximately $34 billion worth of devices running iOS. In that same quarter, Apple shipped only $5.5 billion worth of Macs. Further, while Apple doesn't break out the operating profit per division, some estimate that 75% of Apple's operating profit comes from iPhone. In that case, the sales numbers actually overstate the importance of the Mac to Apple's bottom line.

While Apple's Mac is important from both a mind-share and an ecosystem lock-in perspective, it's important to note that the Mac continues to gain market share against Windows-based PCs even without too many major changes to Mac OS. Apple should -- and undoubtedly will -- continue to focus on making Mac OS as good as it can be. However, what doesn't seem likely is that Apple would sacrifice trying to drive sales of its most profitable and highest growth segments for the Mac.

Apple's aggressively cutting prices on the Mac
In addition to a weak PC market, Apple has become more aggressive on pricing to continue to gain share. Indeed, when Apple debuted the most recent 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, the computer was priced at $1,299 -- $200 lower than its predecessor was at its launch. More recently, Apple announced a slight speed-bump of its MacBook Air and lowered the price of the starting model from $999 to $899.

Apple's MacBook Pro with Retina Display. Source: Apple. 

This appears to be an attempt to continue the market-share growth streak that the company has been on in Mac. With Apple likely nicely far down the cost-curve for the current MacBook Air design, it can probably afford this price cut without adversely affecting the gross margin. At the same time, this draws more people into the sticky Apple ecosystem, making it more likely that they purchase additional Apple products in the future.

Foolish bottom line
The Mac is a wonderful product that generates a good chunk of revenue for Apple and is of strategic importance in growing Apple's rich ecosystem of computing devices. That said, given how popular the current Mac products seem to be even in absence of a major industrial design (in the case of the MacBook Air) or operating system updates, it seems highly unlikely that Apple would intentionally take resources from a next generation iOS to bolster Mac OS. iOS 8 may not include all of the features that Apple had initially planned (complex software is extremely hard to do), but it may not be due to a resource shift from iOS to MacOS. 

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