What if They Had Only 4 Products?

“Jobs killed slow-selling products, most notably the Apple Newton hand-held computer, and reduced the number of product lines from sixty to just 4…” – Charles Hill, Garteth Jones, Essentials of Strategic Management

Apple’s always had a culture of not turning back, and dragging their application developers (think Adobe) & users into their future. Dropping 3 1/2″ floppies, dropping optical drives all together, adding WiFi standard, adding then removing Firewire, etc, etc, etc.

Apple’s in a very different place than they were when Jobs reduced the product line to a 2×2 grid.

Am Pro
Portable  iBook  PowerBook
Desk iMac PowerMac

Since then – they’ve brought a slew of new products to market. What if they restructured like that again? What if Apple only sold 4 products?
Easy, right:

Am Pro
Consuming  iPod Touch  iPhone
Producing  iPad MacBook ProAir

Apple has killed off so many products and product features – over the years – I don’t see a change like this negatively impacting their brand perception.

So, what if other large tech companies under went a similar restructuring?

Here’s a glimpse at some other bold restructurings:


  • AdWords
  • Search
  • Email
  • Maps

Everything else released to open source projects and shuttered – including the mythological 20% projects. This kind of focus on core products would have a jaw-droppingly impact on the internet. Initially, negative but very quickly it would turn highly positive. If only because of the innovation it would spur in replacing those products. That would be good for Google and for the internet.

Oh, BTW: Google’s 10+ year VP of Product Management just resigned.

Update 8 April 2011
Look like I got 2 right!

“If you want to know what [CEO Larry] Page’s priorities will be for Google, just look at this team and the products they run: search, ads, YouTube, mobile, Chrome, and social.” – Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch

I still think Chrome (aka ‘The AdSense Browser’) and ‘social’ (where ‘social’ is defined as something other than GMail & GChat) should be shuttered.

“There is of course the Steve Jobs story. But to go down that path, Google would have to return to its roots — search — and forget about dreams of being Facebook.” – Dave Winer

End of Update

    How about Microsoft

  • XBox
  • Bing
  • Azure
  • HealthVault

If you scan Microsoft’s current offerings – you can see they’re already sunsetting some (namely Zune, MSN Direct, and Money).