Apple creates brilliant designs with elegant user interfaces that work intuitively. I wrote a glowing report about the iPhone yesterday. Today I started thinking about how they do this. The answer is that Apple controls the whole experience from hardware to software to peripherals. Nothing bad about that, it is just a trade-off Apple makes to ensure everything works together seamlessly.
Jupiter Research says "What's missing from the iPhone"
1. It's not extensible by third parties, only Apple. The means at the moment no RSS readers, no Slingplayers.
2. There is no support for Microsoft Office attachments.
3. Not clear how well Exchange will work with calendar and contacts
4. No 3G support. (WiFi makes up for this in some ways.)
Engadget says "The iPhone is not a smartphone" because "smartphones" are a platform that allows third party software applications to be installed.
The Apple Mac has a small (about 5% market share) but loyal following of users. I never got into using Macs but the users I talk to always marvel at how everything works together. Yes but, everything has an Apple logo on it. You buy it from Apple, and pay a 20% premium price for it.
The iPod and iTunes work the same way...it is a closed, all inclusive experience. People love the iPod but they grumble about not being able to get music from other sources.
Apple builds closed proprietary devices. The larger marketplace wants open devices (computers, music players, phones) built on industry standards, or at least "de facto" standards. They want to be able to buy software, peripherals, and hardware upgrades from a variety of sources. This competition keeps prices low and drives innovation.
Apple users are very happy to make the trade-off from "open" to "closed", presumably for the ease of use. Ease of use and elegant design is very important in consumer devices. Most computer users want more power, options, and flexibility. Perhaps this is why Apple has been extremely successful in the consumer space, and modestly successful in the computer business.
Apple users are loyal and dedicated. I expect to hear all sorts of defenses of Apple's approach and how they are way better than the PC and anything Microsoft does. OK, no problem. For some segment of the market (5%) Apple fulfills all their needs beautifully. It just occurred to me today that the way they do it in computers, music players, and phones, is by controlling the whole experience.