Bajarin: How Apple continues to outsmart is competitors

“When the iPhone was launched in 2007, I met with Phil Schiller, SVP of World Wide marketing for Apple, and Greg Joswiak, the Apple VP in charge of marketing the iPods and iPhones,” Tim Bajarin writes for PC Magazine. “During the meeting they showed me the iPhone’s many features and shared their goals for the device, which has now become a major business for Apple.”

“During that meeting, they made a comment that I believe is really the heart of Apple’s secret sauce and the cornerstone of how it continues to outsmart its competitors,” Bajarin writes. “They laid the iPhone on the table, with it turned off, and asked me what I saw. I told them I saw a 3.5 inch blank screen. They said that from Apples point of view, the ‘magic’ of the iPhone is strictly in the software. And, they de-emphasized the hardware.”

Bajarin writes, “It is this ‘blank screen’ mentality that is most interesting about Apple’s strategy. It literally sees software, not hardware, as its greatest value proposition and the one thing that keeps its competitors at bay… Apple competitors delight in going head-to-head with Apple in hardware, because they can compete with them at this level. But it’s the combinations of its hardware that’s created specifically to be a vehicle for its software and the software itself that really sets Apple apart.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Stating the obvious. Bajarin must have had to make his Apple article quota. And anyway, it’s not like Apple ignores the hardware, the most elegant and clever in the industry. Apple ignores nothing about the device.

  2. I beg to differ. The ONLY strength that I see with Apple is their hardware. If software was their most important value strategy, then why did they let iDisk wither and die so that Dropbox could take over? Why did they never introduce Time Machine backups in the cloud so that Backblaze could take over? Why did they never add new features to iCal so that BusyCal could become the reigning champion of calendar programs on the Mac? Why are there still thousands of bugs (or missing features) in Apple Mail for Mac that only a handful of plug-ins or other email programs can solve? Why does MobileMe syncing for contacts & bookmarks work unreliably — at best? Why has iPhoto languished while Picasa has taken over everywhere, including being integrated on my DVD Player and my Roku box? Why do to-do’s not sync to anything, unless you purchase BusyToDo from another company? Why do they charge $100 per year for MobileMe while Google offers all the same things in better forms and for free? Why are iChat and Facetime 2 completely separate apps on the Mac? Why doesn’t iChat handle all the accounts that Adium can handle? Why do you need a computer to synchronize all your content to your iPhone/iPad, whereas Android lets you do everything from the cloud? I could go on & on…

    1. Wow, that is a pretty glass-half-empty view. I’m not sure I even agree with some of the items (MobileMe sync works fine for me, Goggle’s services come at a price – it’s just not an annual bill, and it appears iChat and FaceTime do get merged in Lion), Also, if Apple did all of the things you suggest, where is the incentive for third-party developers? Instead, Apple provides great core tech and the tools (X-code) to leverage it.

    2. You have more faith in the reliability of the current ‘cloud’ utilities, especially for backups, than I do. I suspect that Apple has some interesting things in store in that arena.

      I get a lot of use out of MobileMe, including iDisk, given your criticisms of it. Google just doesn’t cut if for me. Mail has some weaknesses, but I can depend on its interoperability with other applications that I use, and that’s why I prefer it.

      And yes, Lion will address a number of things, including iChat and FaceTime.

    3. Money. Licensing. That sums up the reasons why they don’t do a lot of what you said, especially the iChat thing. Microsoft don’t allow them to include the messenger protocol for example.

      Picassa is owned by Google, I’m sure you’re aware of their “put out shit everywhere so we can shove ads in your face” strategy, hence Android’s existence. iPhoto is a value add for buying a Mac.

      Google’s services are nowhere near as well integrated as MobileMe are, and MobileMe is FAR more than just an email/calendar/contact service.

      Time Machine backups in the cloud sound brilliant, but they’re useless for most people because their net isn’t fast enough to make it plausible. Good for business with industrial speed connections, but they’ll have their own localised backup anyway. I’m sure people will love waiting for their entire hard drive’s contents (even if you choose not to backup the system files) to upload, then download again when you need to restore.

      iChat and FaceTime are separate because they’re not as similar as you think. FaceTime is video chat, that’s it. iChat is FAR more than just video chat. It makes about as much sense to combine them as it does to have them their own apps.

      You need a computer to sync your content to your iDevice because how else would you get all that music and video and so on on there? I’m sure you’d love to buy it all again from iTunes or wherever you choose to get it. It’s done that way because most people have existing content from different places they want to use with them.

      Doesn’t BusyCal use iCal’s API’s by the way? Apple create more than just the software you see, they create ways to utilise all that data that’s held within it too for people to build on top of. Why do you think they ship their IDE/SDK for their platform WITH the platform rather have have it as some totally separate option you have to pay huge amounts for?

    4. There’s nothing wrong with Apple allowing other developers to give Apple customers application options that aren’t created by Apple btw. That can be considered a good thing. Kudos to Dropbox, Backblaze, BusyCal, Apple Mail’s plug in developers, BusyToDo and Adium that support the Mac platform.

      Regarding your maniacal props to Google: I’d wait to see what Mac OS X Lion and the new Apple data center gives us. I’m guessing Mac OS X Lion and the new data center Apple is creating should quiet you down and leave you with nothing more to complain about. Since all I ever see from you is complaints slanted against Apple on MDN… I guess you’ll never make any more comments at that point in time (hehehe).

      Personally I have never seen Google’s software alternatives as great. I don’t like the idea of having my personal information in the “cloud”; ESPECIALLY with Google in control of it lol! I don’t see “Picasa” taking over iPhoto. iPhoto rocks! Just because your lame DVD player and ROKU box uses Picasa doesn’t mean you’re not just being a Google lemming trying to dismiss the greatness that is Apple TV.

      MacBill, it’s time to change your name to GoogleShill 😉

      You do, in fact, pay for Google software.. you pay by selling out your personal information to Googles ACTUAL customers (not you.. it’s advertisers).

      1. Fact! Google OWNS the users personel data. UNTRUSTWORTHY is an understatement when it comes to Google. They could give a RATS ASS! about your privacy. Blind DROID leading The Blind DROID …. Into malware Bliss and FlashDroid uphoria/vira-dingles which to this date….. THERE IS NO CURE! Put THAT in your AAPL pipe and smoke it! The high is $420. Keep laughing naysayers.

    5. Thanks for the replies, folks. I do love the wonderful apps (and high quality technical support) that 3rd party developers provide for the Mac… and I suppose that that in itself is enough reason to love that Apple hasn’t further developed their own apps.

      By the way, I should add that I personally hate Google and I think that they are evil… but I think they are SIGNIFICANTLY better at cloud integration. Well, they HAVE TO BE, because they don’t make any hardware. I hate Google, but I do think Apple could learn a lot from Google. Sort of like the love-hate relationship I have with Microsoft.

      1. Apple is continually improving their apps. (I recommend checking out Mac OS X Lion when it comes out shortly.)

        Also, regarding the “cloud”, you must have heard about the new data center Apple has been creating by now. Or have you not? I’d have more patience and see if that data center Apple is creating satisfies your cloud needs. I’m guessing Google will be learning alot from APPLE at that point. (And I also expect Google’s response and approach to it will be quite miserable as seen with Google’s ventures with copying Apple’s solutions for multimedia, apps and the lame iOS ripoff which is Android.)

        I’d give it some time.

    6. i agree with you on the software issue. Apple software in many cases is designed with the low or average demand user in mind, and clearly does not cut it for a medium to power user.

      There are exceptions.

  3. In my opinion it is not WHAT apple products do, its HOW they do it. Apple has the ability to think like the average untech savvy person and allow them to do things that would be over their heads on other devices. It’s an experience that is consistent throughout the iPhone and iPad. That is why no competitor can compete, because they think like geeks, not like regular people. Any tech company can come out with a tablet that does the same core activites as an iPad but the experience will be confusing, inconsistent and frustrating.

  4. We have seen any number of people over the years debating whether Apple is a software company or a hardware company.

    My take is that Apple is neither. Apple is a solutions company and those solutions involve an elegant combination of hardware and software.

  5. With all the vicious tornadoes that struck North Carolina this past weekend, has anyone heard whether Apple’s new data center suffered any damage?

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