Here is something that I am fixated on these days: In one of the most competitive and fast moving industries in the world, where most products are built from rapidly evolving and readily available commodity components, Apple is winning big. Really, really BIG.
The iPod Touch, The iPhone 4, The iPad. There is nothing out there yet that can ‘touch’ them. Even if sometime soon there were products that match the base product specs and design quality of these devices, they would still need to overcome the perfectly married software and surrounding iOS, iTunes, App and MobileMe ecosystems. The lead Apple has created for itself here is truly incredible when you think about it.
The product here is king.
Say what you will about the Apple advertising, but this story is rooted in the actual product itself – a convergence of technology, software and design – that years on is yet to be matched. It’s so good in fact, that even the competition dropping its prices on their hardware has gained them very little against it.
Then consider that they are doing this while competing across the operating system, PC, smartphone, music player, tablets, gaming and lifestyle software segments (and dabbling in TV, advertising, clouds, e-retail, retail, books and social media). Companies whose entire business is built and focused on a single one cannot put out a device to rival. What is going on at RIM, Nokia, Palm, Microsoft? They are all focused on this single entity in the iPhone and are releasing products that fail to match even Apple’s old technology.
I am trying to think about when there will be equally good products, or possibly superior products to compete vs. the current product line. The Android platform is getting there, but that is perhaps the only thing easy to spot on the horizon, and it competes with only a small piece of the overall Apple product architecture (iOS). We could still be years away from seeing these iProducts exceeded.
In this context, product leadership of this kind is to be respected.
Update: See great Asymco recap explaining some of the ‘why’. Describes it as, ‘Apple sells a value chain – not a product’
Update: RIM takes a bath with a $480M write down on Playbook inventory.