“In the must-have department, Apple’s iPod is the only clear winner in this computer-to-electronics migration. Sure, Dell and HP have bested Apple at a game it dominated before, the PC market,” Sarah Lacy writes for BusinessWeek. “But the iPod’s success might have them thinking: ‘What’s Apple’s secret sauce, and can we steal the recipe?'”
“Analysts agree a mix of ingredients has clicked for Apple. Some of those might spice things up for Dell or HP, but most are pretty unique to Apple — at least for now,” Lacy writes. “For starters, Apple’s music products are truly integrated — the outfit makes the hardware and the iTunes service and software. Other hardware makers are relying on Microsoft and other third parties for software and service, so they can’t control the whole customer experience.”
“That’s one advantage that the Dells and HPs of the world aren’t likely to be able to match. “It’s hard for a bunch of partners to put together something as smooth as that,” says Roger Kay, technology analyst at IDC, a market research firm in Framingham, Mass.,” Lacy writes. “Apple can also afford to advertise and build lush stores because as a seller of premium products, it isn’t in a price war. Sound familiar? It should. Apple had all this going for it in the heyday of its PC business. Then it lost the bulk of that market to systems based on Microsoft’s Windows software. Today, Apple has just 2% share of a business it once dominated.”
Lacy writes, “Jobs & Co.’s reluctance to partner, create a more affordable PC, and generally be more Dell-like — a pattern the outfit seems to be repeating in the digital music business — are the reasons most industry folks say it lost to Windows. So don’t declare Apple the winner quite yet in digital music. The other guys have plenty of time to catch up on quality and undercut Apple on price. After all, it has happened before… Don’t forget, Jobs & Co.’s way hasn’t always won out. Apple skeptics are likely whispering to each other, ‘Just wait.'”
Full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: As with the Mac OS X security through obscurity myth we endured awhile back, it looks like we’ll have to repeat the facts again and again until they sink in: the Macintosh platform required and still requires huge investments by developers to create compatible software. So, when faced with budgetary contraints, they chose and still sometimes choose to go with the most popular platforms. The iPod simply plays music that can be encoded, for very little cost, in any format the “developers” (musicians and labels) desire: AAC, MP3, WMA, etc. The music doesn’t need to be rewritten, recorded, and remastered. It’s like writing Photoshop once and then pressing a button to translate it for use on Mac, Windows, Linux, etc. To draw an analogy between Mac OS licensing and the iPod/iTunes symbiotic relationship simply highlights the writer’s ignorance of the vast differences between the two business situations.