Apple is a unique company, and anyone who would deny that just doesn’t understand the company's history. While IBM created the first personal computer, it was Apple that made the PC useable by people who weren’t programmers. Yes Apple leveraged the idea from Xerox (and then Microsoft from Apple), but does anyone think we would have seen mass adoption of PC’s in the 90’s if Xerox were leading the charge with the GUI interface? And it wasn’t just the GUI interface. Apple delivered files, folder and a trash can, in easy-to-understand icon format. Apple then linked the PC with design software and laser printers and an entirely new way to publish documents was born.
Fast forward two decades and Apple launched the iPod. Apple did not create this product category either, but took it to the next level and made it a must-have for an entire generation. Once again the iPod portable music player was not a standalone device. iPod came with iTunes vertically integrated, quickly followed with the iTunes store, and the music industry was transformed overnight.
Apple's next foray in re-creating an entire market space came with the iPhone. Smartphones were becoming popular with the Blackberry, but Apple leapfrogged the industry again and gave birth to what their vision of a smartphone should be. Hardware makers were forced to play catch-up and many have been disappeared along the way (Sony-Erickson and Panasonic to name a few).
The introduction of the iPad was unveiled in 2010. Until then, Apple was being hounded by the tech press about when it was to release its own NetBook. NetBooks were all the rage before the iPad, but Apple stated that it was looking at the market and would enter the space when they had something they could be proud of. Like its little sibling iPhone, iPad made portable computing affordable and easy for the masses. Students, teachers, children, parents could all now afford a powerful portable computer. NetBooks quickly died on a vine.
Apple has a unique culture. Jobs was proud of bragging how Apple said “no” far more often then “yes” to new ideas and directions for the company. It has been this discipline along with a keen focus on only introducing products that can leapfrog the current industry it enters that has made Apple a success in whichever market it tries. This is very different when compared to rivals Google or Microsoft who enter and then soon exit new markets like a revolving door.
So what’s next? The next generation watch? The next generation TV? Or will it be something else? None of us knows for certain, but we do know which ever space Apple decides to enter, it will take the leadership position, hold the high-end share, and change the market forever.
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