Things #2.1: Apple's Developing Strategy.
Stability and security is another area where Apple has been handed the prize without really trying. Building on NextStep with its UNIX roots was natural for Steve's incoming team, and the sluggishness of Redmond's response to the whole 'broken Windows' security nightmare has left Apple able to claim leadership in that area too, whilst doing relatively little. It's been said often that the almost non-existence of Mac OS X malware and viruses is because there's no point in writing such things for a tiny installed base, and that the advantages of OS X's supposedly superior architecture will crumble if and when Apple's market share grows significantly. Actually the opposite is true: Truly dangerous viruses are significantly harder to architect and construct on the Mac, and when one finally emerges the relatively low concentration of Macs in an explosively expanding universe of connected devices will make propogation much harder.
When it comes to Apple's newer role as a producer of consumer electronics goods and associated services, the apparent lack of amy real competition is even more startling. Do we even need to recount how the major music recording labels handed Apple the keys to the digital music kingdom when they assumed that technologists couldn't possibly know more about their audiences than they did? Suffice to say that Apple were allowed to take the lead in the digital music revolution by providing simple hardware solutions tied into services while the competition were either offering clunky hardware players or betting on a software solution that would work anywhere. That last strategy belonged to Microsoft of course, until they rolled over their Plays for Sure partners to emulate Apple's model, just as Apple was building its own 'iPod as software' strategy with re iPhone and iPod touch. Now MS is back singing the 'software running anywhere' refrain, but it might just be too late to catch up again.
When it comes time to write the history of the post-macintosh Apple, then I'm willing to bet that the extraordinary hubris of the entrenched phone manufacturers and carriers will feature heavily. This might just dwarf the foolishness of the record industry, and contribute even more to Apple's success over the next decade. Remember, we're talking here not of an industry which produces things that people like in a generally unpleasant fashion, but of one that has systematically placed its own ability to extort money from what it laughingly calls its customers at the very top of its agenda.
People love recording artists, if not the companies that record them; I've never met anyone who loves their phone company, and until recently no-one went misty-eyed talking about their handset. The phone companies, and most handsets, are tolerated because they provide something we generally can't do without, and many of us dream of replacing the carriers with an IP-solution.
It's in this context that the attitude of the entrenched players to Apple's 2007 launch of the iPhone seems hubristic, even downright foolish, and I'll talk a little more about that as I try to unpick Apple's forward momentum in my next post.