Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Still Misunderstanding Apple

A recent hosanna slung Apple's way by the NY Times demonstrates how badly most understand Apple's current relevance.

Apple is a leader and innovator in its various markets, but not because, as the Times says in its final paragraph, "Apple is...willing to draw colorful juxtapositions with its rivals." It got to where it is by being, by living, its strategy devoutly. The Mac was a colorful juxtaposition to the IBM PC when it was released, and though the dominant company has changed, it remains exactly what it was when released. It is an operating environment unique to its hardware with an emphasis on graphics running only on proprietary hardware in an especially thoughtful and elegant physical enclosure. (Please spare me the Hackintosh, it is irrelevant at the very least to Apple's marketing.)

The iPod is not a colorful juxtaposition, and it has never been sold as such. The iPhone is a unique offering, and really a "hardware and software" proposition like the Mac, but it is portrayed as the first incarnation of what will be the dominant offering, like the iPod in the beginning. The Mac, though, was always an "alternative", though I suspect Apple hemmed the message in at first to spare the Apple II, and then stuck with it when the Mac was not "the iPod" of personal computers. Apple has assumed a brash, anti-establishment image with people older than the iPod because it primarily sold the Mac in a period of corporate and market decline, but it is wrong to assume that it wants or still adopts that mantle.

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