Four-year plans seem normal to me — any company should have a roadmap for at least the next four years. It's only logical if they want to make strategic decisions that would give them benefits in the long term. Apple is a perfect example of this: they made contracts well in advance to secure a steady supply of low-price flash memory and touchscreens over the next several years. They did it for the iPhone, the MacBook Air and the iPad.
On the operational side of the house, as you probably remember, we have historically entered into certain agreements with different people to secure supply and other benefits, and the largest one in the recent past is that we signed a deal with several flash suppliers at the end of 2005 that totalled over a billion dollars, because we anticipated that flash would become increasingly important across our entire product line and incredibly important to the entire industry, so we wanted to secure supply for the company.
Long-term plans are also needed to guarantee smooth research, design, development and manufacturing phases. In fact, during the same conference call Tim Cook admitted they were spending lots of money on something they couldn't reveal, something looking "way ahead".
So yes, Apple probably has such a plan in place and yes, most probably Jobs supervised it like he did with everything else.
But is this a special plan? The Daily Mail — a well known English tabloid newspaper with zero track on Apple coverage — is implying that Jobs put extra care into it, perhaps fearing that the company would steer away from his vision too soon after his death.
They don't name their sources, which claim that Jobs dedicated the last year of his life to fight for the new Apple campus, the iCloud project and to "masterminding" a plan for the "iPod, iPad, iPhone and MacBooks, ensuring at least four years' worth of products are in the pipeline." No more information was provided.
So we don't really know if this is true or not, even while I can imagine him obsessing over it, thinking that he was running out of time and that, once gone, nobody in the company would be able to carry on his vision. [Daily Mail]