How Apple Stole 1 of Intel's Greatest Weapons

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Apple (NAS: AAPL) loves to borrow and steal great ideas from other people. If it's not a desktop computing model from Xerox (NYS: XRX) PARC or a tablet design from Stanley Kubrick, Cupertino is modeling retail stores after concepts from da Vinci and Fibonacci, or cloning and then perfecting an existing plethora of music-playing gadgets.

So I'm not surprised to see Apple copying the famous "tick-tock" strategy from chip giant and business partner Intel (NAS: INTC) .

The iPhone 4S makes it all so obvious. Every other year, Apple presents a drastic makeover of the iPhone like the sleek, 3G-enabled iPhone 3G or the radical glass-and-aluminum iPhone 4. The years in between simply get a speed bump, refreshed software, and perhaps some fresh accessories. Look for "Olympic Games" on your calendar. If it's there, Apple is going all out again. If not, you'll get the iPhone 5GS, 6X, or something in that vein.

In Intel's model, the company presents either a more advanced manufacturing process or a radically redesigned chip architecture in alternating years -- never both at the same time. Likewise, Apple makes its phones either faster and cheaper, or better and more handsome. You can set your clock by these guys.

Intel has used this model to stave off challenges by Advanced Micro Devices (NYS: AMD) , ARM Holdings (NAS: ARMH) , and MIPS Technologies (NAS: MIPS) for many years. Apple is employing a very similar tactic against a much larger array of competitors, but has already nearly killedResearch In Motion (NAS: RIMM) with this deadly weapon. It works.

"Good artists borrow, great artists steal," said Pablo Picasso (unless, as some sources say, he stole that pithy saying from someone else). Steve Jobs leaned on that mantra to fabulous effect. Now it's up to Tim Cook to keep the clock of iPhone progress tick-tocking. Apple is an important part of an even greater tech revolution that keeps Bill Gates up at night. Learn all about it in this totally free video report.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Research In Motion. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Intel; creating a bull call spread position in Apple; and creating a diagonal call position in Intel. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio, follow him on Twitter or Google+ , or peruse our Foolish disclosure policy.

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