I read with some amusement that Microsoft dropped their tablet concept project within a month of iPad being released. Redmond knew when they had been licked -- which was before the race even started.
A tablet PC running windows is nothing special enough to matter. Even a novel form factor and a touch version of Windows was no match for iPad. The power of the Mac OS X in various modes and the infrastructure of the iTunes store, along with the reputation of Apple hardware, was enough to trump the mediocrity we have come expect from Microsoft. Despite the bravado and mocking of Apple by Balmer and company, one only has to handle an iPad to know it is going to be game changer and the price is right.
Hiring an Apple employee has also been tied, without the desired effect. Look at Palm. Trying to match the iPhone magic has been elusive and getting enough developers to launch apps using the Palm OS has also been impossible to repeat. I think even with the virtually unlimited money HP can invest, they will also fail to produce an iPhone killer. All the iPhone killers out there have barley nicked the market, as Apple recently became the number one US Cell phone manufacturer.
The Google smart phone project is really the only competitor to Apple, but then only in the software. I predict a repeat of the PC running Windows history. Offering software to run on multiple devices can't excel against Apple, who controls both the hardware and software. The user experience is completely controlled by Apple. The PC world recoils with horror as "that limits our options!"
I watch with amusement as the PC crowd struggles to run the Windows OS on the iPad, or Windows Mobile OS on the iPhone or some other operating system on Apple hardware. As far as I am concerned, after over 20 years of being exclusively an Apple fan, putting someone else's system on Apple hardware is like keeping pigs in the back seat of a new BMW. Someone may want to be able to say they did it, but really, why try?
While a lot of what Apple produces is cutting edge, the company often takes what is already out there, refines it and makes it a joy to use. The iPod was not the first music player, but it was the best. The iTunes store was not the first way to buy music on line, but it was the best and offered the music industry an alternative to pirated music becoming the norm. The iPad was not the first tablet and not the first touch screen device of its kind, but it appears to be the best. The iPhone was not the first smart phone but is clearly the best. It's not that Apple never drops the ball, but that is the exception.
If Apple gets into DVRs, HDTVs, microwave ovens ... whatever, they will do it right and the product will smooth out the rough edges of what came before. I have a Sharp microwave oven where the "start" button, which is used far more often than any other button, is text hidden in the clutter where the pop corn button, which is used once a week is much more prominent. If Steve Jobs has to use crappy interfaces, you can be sure he notices. I have learned from Apple to expect the most commonly used control button to be the most prominent. When it isn't, I notice and it ticks me off. I am so spoiled as an "Apple brat" that I refuse to learn illogical user interfaces, buy crappy products. I get vocal and angry about it.
Apple's market momentum, patent portfolio and cash reserves make the Apple Corp. a runaway conglomerate. I would like to see the Apple mentality in the auto industry and government, but I doubt it will ever happen. There just aren't enough Steve Jobs out there to fix what is wrong with so much in our lives.
We can just be thankful to Steve that our computers, iPads, iPods and iPhones just work! I know magic when I see it!
-- Greg Mills
Greg Mills does faux wall art (http://www.gregmills.info/GregMills.info/Home.html) and runs Cottage Industry Solar Shops (http://www.cottageindustrysolar.com/cottageindustrysolar/Home.html).