Apple’s huge OS licensing opportunity

“Apple may have a huge and hidden opportunity to drive proliferation across all its platforms by licensing some of its connected operating systems, though doing so goes against its usual way of doing business,” Jonny Evans writes for Apple Must.

“If we define Apple’s core products as Macs, iPads and iPhones, then it makes little sense for the company to license its operating systems. Not only do they give its products a unique selling position, because they are better designed and work better than anything else, but these cash cows also contribute a great deal of revenue to the company coffers,” Evans writes. “However, Apple is also developing its services income. That means its app stores, online services, Apple Music, messaging and a range of associated service-based solutions, each of which contribute a few more dollars to its bottom line.”

“Apple CEO, Tim Cook, has told us the company built Apple Music for Android as a way to find out more about the opposing platform. A feasibility study in service provision – and why not – get people hooked on the services and the iPhone, iPad and Mac sales will soon follow,” Evans writes. “As in future will Apple Watch and Apple TV. Each of which have their own OS, watchOS and tvOS. Why shouldn’t Apple license those non-core operating systems?”

“We already know Apple is looking at expanding services provision into other platforms – Apple Music for Android is a good example of this, and has been installed 5-10 million times,” Evans writes. “The benefits to doing so: it would gain sales, addict more non-core platform users to its services, and, step-by-step, gain a chance to woo customers across to iPad, iPhone and Mac. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps if Apple could retain the right to approve the hardware – a sort of Made For watchOS/Made For tvOS sort of program – so they could exclude cheaply-made products (think poorly-made digital crowns that fail) that would damage the brand. But, now, after thinking about that: It’s a can of worms.

Of course, doing things like bringing Apple Pay personal payments to iMessage and offering Messages for Android do make sense (but even that seemingly simple move comes with the big condition that security can somehow be dealt with properly on the fragmented Android platform).


  1. Crazy! What POSSIBLE reason is there for Apple to licence these OS’s to inferior hardware companies? And with all the difficulties of integration and security!

  2. License the tvOS but require it to be bundled with the CPU of the AppleTV, for example, so that it runs properly.

    Wouldn’t mind having the guts of the AppleTV built into my HDTV, but the major brands would probably never agree to that.

  3. I’d almost rather an HDTV just be a monitor which you can then connect some sort of upgradeable hub device to the hardware for which can be changed as new tech comes along. My TV is ten years old but is a fantastic Philips ambilight and apart from not being 4k (which I’m not overly bothered by yet) is still serving me just fine. In the time I’ve had it I’ve had various Apple TV’s and other content providing devices. Had they been built in, much like the tuner it comes with at the moment, they would have become unused to the point of being effectively obsolete.

  4. Glass of water, anyone?

    For our fifth D conference, both Steve and his longtime rival, the brilliant Bill Gates, surprisingly agreed to a joint appearance, their first extended onstage joint interview ever. But it almost got derailed.
    Earlier in the day, before Gates arrived, I did a solo onstage interview with Jobs, and asked him what it was like to be a major Windows developer, since Apple’s iTunes program was by then installed on hundreds of millions of Windows PCs.
    He quipped: “It’s like giving a glass of ice water to someone in Hell.” When Gates later arrived and heard about the comment, he was, naturally, enraged, because my partner Kara Swisher and I had assured both men that we hoped to keep the joint session on a high plane.
    In a pre-interview meeting, Gates said to Jobs: “So I guess I’m the representative from Hell.” Jobs merely handed Gates a cold bottle of water he was carrying. The tension was broken, and the interview was a triumph, with both men acting like statesmen. When it was over, the audience rose in a standing ovation, some of them in tears.

  5. Apple should sell a software package specifically designed for the Intel Nuc. The package should be priced at $ 129 and it should include: OSX, iLife, iWork, dual boot support.

    This would be great for:

    – Students and others who need a low cost option.
    – Hobbyists and experimenters.
    – Office workers who just need a basic reliable system.
    – IT personnel who need to test scripts and rebuild systems frequently.
    – Developers who only need a computer to write and test swift apps.

    The Intel Nuc would be an ideal replacement for the Mac Mini.


    Apple doesn’t have to write for multiple hardware platforms, graphics drivers etc. Apple is already familiar with writing drivers for Intel hardware.

    Apple software on the Nuc will bring new users to the Apple echo system.

    Low initial entry cost. Users can expand the ram or change the SSD later if they need to.

    Here is some info on the Intel Nuc:

  6. Has Apple ever considered selling at least the older versions of Mac OS as a download for VMware or other virtual machines? I think that would be a very accessible way for people to use Mac software on older hardware. I am aware that people have made hackintoshes by doing this but I’m sure that this is technically illegal, so offering Mac for virtual machines legally might make this an attractive option for those interested.

    1. As long as Apple is still providing a version of OS X (macOS) via the Mac App Store, you can still download the installer and use it in a virtualization application, as long as that application is compatible. That includes Parallels, VirtualBox and VMWare.

      Or, you may already have an OS X installer backed up. (Always a great idea). Or you might know someone who has a copy. It is entirely legal to run OS X in virtualization, as long as it’s on Apple hardware. On IBM platform PCs, not legal, but only the compatibility of the virtualization application is holding you back.

  7. No, No and No.

    Does the author understand the difference between an application and an OS? It sounds like he’s talking about cross platform iTunes and Apple’s compatible service, but he keeps saying ‘operating system’ like that’s the same thing. NO it’s NOT!

    Apple will NEVER, EVER license it’s operating systems to another company again. Been there, got 🔥BURNED🔥 by that! It was one of the dopey Gil Amelio ideas that bit Apple in the backside and fed their massive unwanted Mac Performa inventory problem of 1996. Steve Jobs killed it off ASAP when he returned to Apple as CEO.

    IOW: Enabling access to Apple’s services on other platforms need not have anything to do with licensing Apple’s OSes. So say I.

  8. This is the same argument people had when Apple licensed the Mac OS all those years ago. Except for a few cases, like some of the UMAX and PowerComputing machines, the clones were awful, looked like crappy PCs, and were an awful user experience. They really didn’t have a ton of control over what the clone companies did. Look up the Motorola line.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.