NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple (AAPL) is such a large company that it's always working on multiple projects at the same time. Even more interesting is the synergy of those efforts. In contrast to some companies, Apple's coherent vision of where it wants to go means that it works on seemingly disparate projects that are nevertheless designed to eventually dovetail.
In the course of developing those projects, some are rolled out as standalone features that may seem questionable in isolation. That's because some technologies must be stress tested before the final integration.
For example, what's the relationship between TouchID -- Apple's fingerprint recognition system on the new iPhone 5s -- and iCloud? The connection doesn't seem obvious until Apple adds iBeacon, a secure payment system with its AppleID and the iCloud keychain. The result is that, at some critical point, a complete architecture for mobile payments is suddenly, surprisingly in place.
Another example is the 64-bit A7 System on a Chip (SoC) in the new iPad Air, mini Retina and the iPhone 5s. This caught competitors completely off guard, but it makes sense within Apple's long-term efforts. For example, if Apple were planning hybrid notebook computers or larger iPads (the rumored iPad Pro) with low power ARM CPUs, they'd have to have a larger address space and 64-bit capability, just like the Macintosh brethren. A Qualcomm employee recently said: "The 64-bit Apple chip hit us in the gut."
The lesson here is that Apple has long-term plans, but we often only see the pieces rolled out when they're ready and, many times, out of phase, until the dots get connected.