“Phenomenal as it may be, the success of the iPod will not suffice on its own to pull Apple out of the ‘über-stylish, niche innovator’ role the industry has typecast the company in. It is also quite clear that the Macintosh platform on its own will not be able to grow significantly if it continues its course at the current rhythm of market penetration,” Andreas Pfeiffer writes for ExtremeTech. “Sure, iPods may drive iMac sales, and growing concerns about security also may erode confidence in the Windows platform, but the chances for the Macintosh to go from current levels of market penetration to double-digit numbers remain fairly slim.”
“These days, the key area of interest for Apple is… the most coveted spot of consumer technology today, what one might call ‘The Great Living-Room Conundrum’: the convergence of digital media with lifestyle and entertainment. The company that ends up dominating this space will be very enviable indeed,” Pfeiffer writes. “Yet Apple may have a better chance than others at cracking the way in which entertainment, the Internet and computing come together. There’s one simple reason: Unlike most other players in this field, Apple is not fueled by technology, but it is clearly vision-driven.”
“The company owes its biggest successes to the capacity of spotting an emerging need and then delivering a superior product to cover it. (And conversely, Apple’s failures often can be traced back to its incapacity to act like the ‘normal’ technology provider.) In particular, Apple manages to succeed in one area where most technology-centric companies (and Microsoft in particular) almost systematically fail: in making products desirable,” Pfeiffer writes.
“Whatever comes next from Apple will probably resemble the iPod in terms of approach rather than in terms of product… Any future foray into the consumer space needs to be sufficiently close to Apple’s core business to avoid alienating the extremely loyal Macintosh user base,” Pfeiffer writes. “So, to get back at our initial question: Yes, Apple could well crack the living-room conundrum. But don’t expect Steve Jobs to do it in a predictable way.”
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