A lot has been discussed about how Apple products, and in particular the iPhone, seem to be following Intel’s Tick-Tock strategy.
Apple appears to be doing the same (or something very close to it) with OS X as well.

On episode 11 of Accidental Tech Podcast, Casey Liss asks John and Marco if they think iOS is following the same pattern. I completely agree with Casey: to me iOS 3 and 5 were -from the user standpoint- bigger than iOS 4 and 6.
This is not to say iOS 4 and 6 were not big: truthful to the Tick-Tock strategy they provided amazing features for developers and refinements to the users.

But here’s where I think it gets interesting with a unique Apple twist:

  • Tick versions of iOS came with the S versions of the devices (iOS 3 with the iPhone 3GS and iOS 5 with the iPhone 4S).
  • On the other hand, big hardware releases such as the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 launched alongside Tock releases of iOS (iPhone 4 with iOS 4 and iPhone 5 with iOS 6).

This to me shows the unique position Apple is in, and how they are innovating even in this process: by leveraging their hardware and software integration, they have multiple Tick-Tock strategies running in different phases and effectively yielding a Tick breakthrough every cycle instead of every other one. Even more, their Tick devices come paired with rock solid Tock iOS versions, that add great features for the developers, enabling them to better support the new device features.

I’m tempted to end this post with my speculation on iOS 7, but I think it will be missing the point.
I expect iOS 7 -as a Tick release- to be big in terms of user facing features (and reports seem to agree), and be later paired with a “minor” 1 update to the hardware.

  1. While I always had the non-S iPhones, I always thought the S verions of the hardware were the best. Tried and true form factor with greatly enhanced internals. By no means a “minor updates”.