Apple Being Chased by Zombies, Decides to Walk Faster

by Chris Seibold Feb 01, 2011

Predictions of Apple's return to its place as benchwarmer in the computing game are easy to find. Here's on example but there are plenty to more to be found all over the web.

The sentiments make some sense—isn't this what happened to Apple in the olden days. Wasn't the Mac off to a roaring lead and then Apple just dropped the ball. Wasn't the Mac wildly over priced? Didn't Apple refuse to license Mac OS until far too late? Isn't history about to repeat its self with the rise of Android?

First we need to dispel some myths. The Mac's market share zenith is right now. There were no good old days when the Mac dominated the market. The best year the Mac ever had it managed to capture just 12% of the market. PCs, at the time controlled 87% and change.

It turns out the Mac didn't get beat because it was too expensive, or too proprietary or too difficult to program for. Apple lost its market share because it moved too slowly. Recall that back in the "good old" days no one was trying to imitate the Mac. No one was coming out with computers with 9 inch grayscale screens, no one was trying to copy the hardware. People were more interested in mimicking the software. Bill Gates got a license to do this and ran with it unchecked until Steve Jobs returned to Apple and finally got the Mac moving forward again. But by then it was a very different game.

However, since Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod touch innovations Apple is back on top. So the thought that the iOS products are doomed to the same fate as the Macs of yesteryear doesn't hold up. You're still worried, right?

Think of this in zombie terms. In the 90's Apple was beset by zombies, everyone wanted an intuitive easy-to-use computer. So companies started chasing Apple. Zombies are notoriously slow, to get away from them you just need to walk a little faster, but Apple was the computing equivalent of a lame octogenarian. For every shambling step a zombie took Apple sat down to catch it's breath, adjust the company truss and complain about its rhuematism. So it should be no surprise that the zombies caught Apple and feasted on its gooey brains.

Thanks to Steve Jobs, Apple was reborn in a faster infinitely more sexy version of itself and it doesn't move slowly anymore. The zombies are always walking to where Apple was, not where the company is going.

Sure, competitors will play with  specs or price and perhaps even philosophy, but so far they haven't changed what they are actually trying to do, and that is to make the best clone of an iOS device they can. Which does nothing for them, these aren't $5,000 machines people are desperately clinging to, these are sub $1,000 iPads and a phone no one keeps for more than two years anyway.  While everyone is trying to make the best copy possible of the iPhone, Apple cranks out a new and better one every year. The new model makes the competition refocus, suddenly what they were trying build so diligently for a year before has been replaced and they've got something brandnew they have to copy.

In the end, iOS devices aren't going to be easily marginalized because they are all anyone is trying to make. It is a tacit admission by all the companies who use Android that they can't beat Apple's design acumen so they'll just live with copying it. That sends one clear message to consumers: if you want the best, get it from Apple.

The disappointing part about all the faux innovation is that it prevents all those engineers working on copying iOS devices from actually spending time coming up with something better. Is a finger driven display the best way of navigating through the OS on a mobile device? Probably not, but since that is the Apple way it is the way everyone is going to be stuck with until some non-zombie company comes along and decides to build something better.




  • everyone is going to be stuck with ‘Apple’ until some non-zombie company comes along and decides to build something better. Joe Zanotti

    Joezanotti had this to say on Nov 01, 2011 Posts: 1
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