Or, perhaps, trying to drive from outside the car.
I'm definitely not showing a sense of social protocol here, but I've been daydreaming about this for a long time, since well before I knew Steve Jobs was losing his battle with cancer. (This is more-or-less what I would have posted back in October, but didn't have time to.)
(If the reports of Steve's last diatribe against Android are accurate, I'm inclined to think respect for the dead means something a little different in this case.)
But here's what I'd do, were I in a position to do so, to try to avoid Apple following Bill and Microsoft down the hill:
Start two sister companies, called, maybe, AppleSeed and Crabapple.
The "Appleseed" company would take over from Apple most infrastructure intellectual assets, including the continued development of the OSses and fundamental hardware.
Apple itself would stay focused on customer/end-user issues and on designing and selling the current and next models.
The Appleseed company would also be tasked with setting up and supporting a true open source community around both Darwin and iOS. Not the non-community archival site at opensource.apple.com, nor the para-community you find at www.macosforge.org. A true community, something like the Fedora community that Red Hat supports. Around both Darwin and iOS.
And the Appleseed company would be tasked with moving discontinued products, both software and hardware, into a community supportable state, mostly under the Apple Public License, GPL, and so forth. Include hardware and circuit diagrams for the old 68k and PPC stuff. Part of that would be clearing "intellectual property" issues and releasing the old Macintosh system and (Apple's) application code from the original Mac through Mac OS 9 under open source licenses. And clearing the "IP" issues for re-implementing a desktop manager based on the old Mac UI.
The "Crabapple" company would be a community based prototyping company, where one would be able to buy such things as PPC, ARM, and ColdFire motherboards running DarwinOS and iOS-sans-UI, and other DIY gadgets. You would also be able to buy current AMD x86 processor based systems pre-loaded with DarwinOS and open source desktops like KDE or XFCE. (No need for INTEL systems, Apple itself can maintain its relationship with INTEL for as long as it seems prudent to do so.)
The Crabapple company would also be tasked with maintaining security level updates for the Mac OS X versions that Apple has EOLed. This would not be a free service, but would not be overly expensive, either, perhaps $25 a year as a subscription. And they could provide other fee-based services, such as providing several versions of non-warranteed Aqua UI to load on top of the most recent DarwinOS.
Or, instead of actually maintaining the down-level systems, the Crabapple company could support the MoL/MoM community, officially allowing the old systems to be run under emulation on newer hardware under current OSses.
The Crabapple company would also publish open source hardware drivers for use in the Linux and BSD communities, under appropriate licenses
Why? end-user buzz is not enough, and Apple is too big already. This would help keep Apple small and competitive.
The licensing would allow non-Apple companies to compete with the Crabapple company, which would also build the community.
And the future is in communities, made of small companies.