Why no competitor has been able to copy Apple’s success

“Let’s be lazy for a second here, and attribute all of Apple’s success over the past 15 years to two men: Steve Jobs and Tim Cook,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball. “Jobs designs them, Cook makes them and sells them.”

“It’s the Jobs side of the equation that Apple’s rivals — phone, tablet, laptop, whatever — are able to copy. Thus the patents and the lawsuits. Design is copyable,” Gruber writes. “But the Cook side of things — Apple’s economy of scale advantage — cannot be copied by any company with a complex product lineup.”

Gruber writes, “I’ve always been interested in Apple’s products because of their superior design; the business side of the company was never of as much interest. But at this point, it seems clear to me that however superior Apple’s design is, it’s their business and operations strength — the Cook side of the equation — that is furthest ahead of their competition, and the more sustainable advantage. It cannot be copied without going through the same sort of decade-long process that Apple went through.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Attribution: iPadCTO.com. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Judge Bork” for the heads up.]


    1. Alen, HTC should call their line of phones iShouldHaveGotAniPhone. It may already be taken because I hear it’s name all the time when people talk about their new smart phones. I think it is a long name and they need something shorter.

  1. Gruber forgot the intrinsic value of Unix and all the software systems and expertise that no other company has.

    Everyone else in the industry has just flopped onto the deckchairs on the Microsoft Titanic and gone along for the ride.

  2. Because other companies are run by bean counters who are only concerned with sales and profits for the next quarter, not whats going to happen 3 or 5 years from now.

    They are also run by people who wouldn’t know good creative if it slapped them in the face. Apple is run by creative people. The suits havent been able to figure that out after 10+ years now.

  3. Both “sides” matter of course. But it is the innovation that is the magic sauce. First there needs to be a successful project that needs to be copied, then there is the supply problems involved in doing it at a competitive price. Everything can be copied; products, manufacturing, supply chain. The winner pushed forward into the future. It is creating the new and better future that is hard. It is at this that Apple has been winning.

    That plus they have never adopted the screw the stupid customer attitude so prevalent elsewhere. Things like free POS phones, dumbed down versions of the OS. Free printers with outrageously expensive ink.

    The secret is not a secret. It is one man’s value system and a very large amount of hard work.

  4. Apple is in really big trouble. Microsoft just showed a working Windows 8 tablet with Live Tiles and Metro and it’s due for release late next year. Sell Apple now.

    1. Well then, I guess it’s game over for apple. Microsoft will come in and steamroll them in the iPad market just they did with the “plays for sure” partners and then their zune in the iPod market 😉

      I like their strategy, I like it allot

  5. I think everyone’s missing the point (except in the HTC comment above; it wasn’t even on the same planet as the point).

    The writer isn’t saying that the creative side doesn’t matter, or that the part supplied by Tim Cook can’t be copied. He’s saying that, even if some other company comes along and designs something brilliant, one that fulfills an unknown need for customers and is the epitome of user-friendliness, they still won’t see the kind if success that has been routine at Apple over the past few years. Because, while design genius can happen literally overnight, the company still wouldn’t have the supply-side genius in place to capitalize on it like Apple, and it would take them years to get to that point.

    And I agree. It will be a long time before we see anyone seriously compete with Apple, because no one is even close today, and the process is a long one.

  6. In short, what no one else can compete with is Apple’s stranglehold on low component prices – not even Samsung which makes so many of the necessary components.
    Apple even invests in new factories and in added manufacturing capacity, for selected component suppliers, in exchange for rock-bottom prices and, often, exclusivity of supply for a set period, usually more than a year, I believe.

    1. I’m not seeing it.

      Before all those lawsuits got started, the competition was doing poorly (think iPod wars, smartphone wars, which has now moved onto the tablet and mobile OS wars…)

      These are still early stage legal battles. AAPL got an injunction in a few jurisdictions only very recently. They haven’t had an affect on quarterly numbers yet. The poor performance of the non-AAPL players has been going on for years.

  7. History repeating itself.

    During the 50s & 60’s, buying a car often faced the customer with up to 1400 different possible configurations. The Japanese came along, followed Henry Ford’s winning format, and once again offered simple reliable cars in one of 2 models in only a few colours. This allowed them to focus on quality, reduce manufacturing, and offer low prices.

    TVs and stereos once came with customizable features, replaceable, upgradeable circuit boards, until competition did the same thing. Today nobody builds TVs, nor upgrades, nor services. They are simply replaced.

    Computers/lifestyle devices are going the same way. One day we will look back in astonishment that people once had options to “build themto order” and had service people come to their homes to maintain them.

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