Instead, Apple is looking at something more important than unit share, and that's unit sales. Continued growth in unit sales is a healthy sign. Here's a chart of Apple's iPhone unit sales (in millions per quarter) since the iPhone launch in 2007.
This growth curve, with a best fit, looks like the rising part of the classic Gaussian curve. Sitting on the early, growth part of the Gaussian curve means that more growth, exponential growth, is in the offing, and that's what investors should be fundamentally interested in because it reflects the long-term health and prosperity of Apple.
Continued growth in unit sales means Apple isn't going out of business anytime soon, contrary to inattentive analysis by some.
On the other hand, competing for unit share with a degraded brand and lower prices (again, unable to meet demand -- for awhile) would mean that customers would rally behind the former underdogs who would seize opportunity for leadership, and the unit sales Gaussian would start to peak and then decline too early. That means Apple's hand would be forced with regard to the timing of its new product categories, for example, the mythical iWatch or a next generation TV system.
The rising part of the Gaussian for unit sales of an existing product is the right time to be developing a future product.
The reason is that new Apple product categories disrupt current products, and it takes time to develop a quality product, in line with Apple's vision, with new technology that fits into Apple's current infrastructure and has a deep understanding of real human needs.
Lots of companies can make good enough smartphones these days. But there is only one iPhone. To gain overall unit share against all those companies means reducing the product quality so severely that Apple would no longer be such a desirable brand. The iPhone unit sales would peak early, then decline, reducing available R&D funds and forcing Apple to introduce a new product category prematurely, before it's fully baked. That, in turn, would lead to a further damage to Apple's brand and a downward spiral of the company.
Timing is everything.
But some investors would rather ride the Apple stock for all its worth, cash in, watch Apple fail, then move on to the next growth opportunity. CEO Tim Cook, being a good steward, isn't interested in that scenario.
At the time of publication the author had a position in AAPL.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.