“The mass market is supposed to be dead, but you would never know it from Apple. In February the iTunes Store became the second-largest music retailer in the U.S., right behind Wal-Mart. The iPod is to music players what Kleenex is to tissue or Xerox is to copiers. Almost everything Apple makes transcends gender, geography, age, and race. An Apple Store is a demographic melting pot, with computer games for kids and a Genius Bar for their parents and so much cool stuff to touch that it’s a magnet for teens and twentysomethings,” Betsy Morris reports for Fortune.

“Apple scoffs at the notion of a target market. It doesn’t even conduct focus groups. ‘You can’t ask people what they want if it’s around the next corner,’ says Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO and cofounder. At Apple, new-product development starts in the gut and gets hatched in rolling conversations that go something like this: What do we hate? (Our cellphones.) What do we have the technology to make? (A cellphone with a Mac inside.) What would we like to own? (You guessed it, an iPhone.) ‘One of the keys to Apple is that we build products that really turn us on,’ says Jobs,” Morris reports.

“With that simple formula, Apple not only has upstaged the likes of Microsoft but has set the gold standard for corporate America with an entirely new business model: creating a brand, morphing it, and reincarnating it to thrive in a disruptive age,” Morris reports.

Apple’s rebirth “coincides exactly with the return of Jobs as Apple’s maestro, bringing his particular mix of genius and obsession, as well as a tendency to play by his own rules. His utter dedication to discovery and excellence has created a culture that has made Apple a symbol of innovation. You won’t find that word on a placard or a piece of propaganda at One Infinite Loop, Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. There innovation is a way of life. But it isn’t like creating new variations on Crest toothpaste. At Apple, every endeavor is a moon shot,” Morris reports.

Much more in the full article, in which Morris also correctly notes that “ownership of its operating system gives Apple an unusual degree of control over its ability to design, change, and adapt,” here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Brawndo Drinker” for the heads up.]