Charlie Kindel outlined the way to compete with Apple (from June 2012):
Apple has nailed cohesiveness by removing complexity from the equation through vertical integration in devices, people, brands, channels, and services to differing degrees
And, regarding competition with Microsoft, Google, et al:
This new battleground is not about apps. It is not about mobile. It is not about tablets. It is about Experiences.
Fastforward to today, and Kindel outlines Why Nobody Can Copy Apple:
Apple’s products are unique not on their feature merits, but because of the way they are conceived, designed, built, sourced, manufactured, shipped, marketed, sold, opened, held, and used. This is integration taken to the extreme and it would be difficult for any company to replicate.
In other words, copying Apple’s entire system is very difficult, which is why no competitor tries to go head to head with Apple.