I decided to rewatch Apple’s WWDC 2021 keynote for a second time to see whether I could highlight the biggest announcements from the event and perhaps provide some insight into where things stand when compared to other ecosystems. But with my previous live viewing of the keynote providing some perspective, it became quickly obvious that the big news this year isn’t a particular feature or even a list of features, but rather how the maturation of Apple’s platforms is steadily closing the loop on cross-device integration, providing a better experience---and more lock-in---for its customers.
In the pre-cloud days of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Microsoft pushed the same strategy, which it called “Better Together,” for Windows, Windows Server, and Office. The idea was that these products would be upgraded together whenever possible and that customers would get the most benefit if they upgraded two or even three of them together. A new version of Windows would offer whatever selection of new features, for example, and so would, say, the new Windows Server. But when customers upgraded and used those two new versions together? That’s when the real benefits---and, for Microsoft, the bigger revenues---would kick in.