I'm not one of those Apple die hards. Far from it. I don't own an iPod or anything from Apple, other than an original Mac I gutted in my basement and have never finished converting into an aquarium...
I'm more about function than beauty and generally refuse to pay a premium for most brands, especially ones I consider to be overly trendy. Critics of my wardrobe would wholeheartedly agree, no doubt.
With that disclaimer out of the way, I have to admit that I really admire Steve Jobs and what he's done over the years. Building Apple (with Woz) from scratch and then coming back several years later to help reinvent it as a media company was brilliant. This article by Damien Stolarz in Streaming Media magazine helped me to better understand Apple's perspective. Here are a couple of important excerpts:
But that's once again where these so called "competitors" in "digital music" are flattering themselves—they think Apple is competing with them. Apple doesn’t even really consider Zune, Napster, URGE, Rio, or Creative a competitor. Why? They consider Wal-Mart a competitor. They consider Best Buy a competitor. Big-box distributors of CDs—that's their competitor.
Next time you're writing your business plan for how you're going to take out old media with your revolutionary digital technology, perhaps take a play from Apple's book. Don't gird your loins for a fight with the other bit players (pun intended); look at what it's going to take to displace the brick-and-mortars, the ancient, grooved-in distribution channels that have been pushing product forever.
Excellent points. In just about any industry we get too hung up trying to steal a point or two from the obvious competitors. Apple is being rewarded handsomely because they choose to break out of that narrow-minded mode and take a bigger picture look at what really shapes the overall industry.