I argue that Apple now has not one but two monopolies:
I) A nearly-total monopoly on computer (and pocket computer) systems designed with good taste.
II) A total monopoly on the Microsoft-free, hassle-free personal computer.
Imagine that every car maker save for Toyota insisted on using the infamous East German Trabant as a standard of quality – yet blindly imitated random elements of Toyota’s visual design. How long would it take for the whiners to appear on the scene and start making noises about monopolistic tyranny? How long would it take for Toyota to start living up to these accusations in earnest? And why should it not do so? What is to be gained from corporate sainthood? …
Of course, Apple’s competitors cannot actually copy the secret of its greatness, because Apple is a fundamentally different type of organism. Rather than a brainless government-by-committee, it is an extension of one man’s will, projected with the aid of a small group of trusted lieutenants: no focus groups in sight. For the Apple-imitators to turn into genuine “Apples” would be as fantastic and unlikely as it would be for a slime mold to spontaneously become a true multicellular animal, equipped with a central nervous system. It is also unclear that, from their own perspective, they should want to grow brains – for a creature with that kind of centralized point of failure is decidedly no longer immortal.
I’ve always thought that Apple had only non-consumption to compete with. The non-consumption of hassle-free technology.