Yesterday morning Janice and I were discussing my decision not to buy a MacBook Pro. I ended up buying the HP Pavilion DV6000, an equivalent piece of hardware to a low-end MacBook Pro for $999, versus the Apple's $2,199. The only major difference is that the HP product runs Windows Vista instead of MacOS.
Apple masterfully delivers cutting edge technology packaged in gorgeous industrial design, and people willingly pay a premium for it. The value of that premium lasts only as long as others can't copy it. Once copied, you're buying a brand. In that sense, Apple is the Sony of today. We could both remember a time when if you wanted the best television, you bought Sony.
Michael Robertson's Nine Things an iPhone Can't Do is worth reading. Robertson points out that iPhone is missing many things. The iPhone has a couple of signature features in the touchscreen and iPod integration, wrapped in a beautiful industrial design. But like Robertson, most people in the industry agree that it's a pretty average phone. One could argue that the iPhone is a brand extension of the iPod, rather than the revolutionary new product Steve Job's claims.
Does anyone remember the first Sony Vaio's in their distinctive purple titanium casings? Everyone wanted one of these tiny wonders. The lesson for Apple is at retail today. While my local FutureShop can't keep Apple's Macbooks and the HP Pavilion DV laptops in stock, when I asked about the Sony Vaio on display (closed, I might add), the sales consultant confided in me that they hadn't moved any in a long time. People no longer view Sony as a premium brand… now it's just an over-priced PC.