“It’s sometimes easy to forget how momentous 2006 was for Apple Computer. Options backdating scandal aside, the company converted its entire Mac lineup to Intel processors with barely a hiccup, it introduced software to let users run Windows on their new Macs, and it kept sales humming for its hit iPod lineup with evolutionary, if not revolutionary, product updates,” Cliff Edwards reports for BusinessWeek.
“Apple remains king of the kill in digital music and has won a slew of converts to the Mac. But now it must step into a bout with a slew of heavyweights in the digital-home and cellular-phone markets. It’s a sure bet that the move out of its comfort zone will be hotly contested every step of the way by the likes of Sony, Microsoft, Samsung, and others,” Edwards reports. “That’s not to say Apple doesn’t have its own big guns for the battle. The Cupertino (Calif.) crew has rarely missed a beat in figuring out how to delight the consumer with easy-to-use products. It has a virtual monopoly in digital music players—helping to spawn nearly a multibillion-dollar business in accessories.”
Edwards reports, “But with the iPod, Apple helped create a new product category from one that barely existed, with few big-name competitors. As it wades further into the digital home and into cellular phones, it faces entrenched players with their own set of rabid fans.”
“The challenge becomes even more significant because for the first time in years, Apple’s continued ascendancy won’t rest solely in the hands of Steve Jobs & Co. While the company can help influence the shape of the digital home, phones, and even PCs, those areas require more finesse and a get-along attitude, something that’s not been apparent in Apple’s DNA over the years,” Edwards reports. “Success will rely on how well it can forge and maintain relations with key software, content, and retail partners.”
Full article here.