Argue if you must (and have the time to waste), but in computers for the masses, Apple is the trendsetter. Other manufacturers may ship more PCs, more smartphones, and more tablets, but Apple is the company disrupts and then resets the standard.
Here are some visible examples.
What did Microsoft’s operating system look like before Mac OS? What did Windows look like years after the Mac launched? What did portable media players look like before the iPod? What did PC notebooks look like before the PowerBook or MacBook Air? What did Android OS and smartphones look like before the iPhone? What did tablets look like before the iPad?
You get the idea, right?
Except for one thing Apple sets the standard and the rest of the industry follows. One thing? What Apple does not do is design, build, and sell cheap products. That explains why Apple products’ marketshare is disproportionate to the company’s profit share. Apple stakes out the premium side of the product spectrum, and despite attempts by others to copy that strategy, owns it.
Let’s look at a few other areas where the company’s trendsetting sets the stage for copycat manufacturers to follow Apple’s lead.
Ultrabooks. The MacBook Air debuted as an expensive but thin and light slab of aluminum, sans the artifacts of yesteryear (no CD/DVD player).
64-bit CPUs. Apple’s ARM-based, customized CPU for iPhone and iPad is 64-bit. A year after the A7 CPU rocked the mobile world, Android-based devices are beginning to ship a competitor. Android OS, too.
Despite the history of trendsetting, bar raising, and market disruption, Apple marches to the beat of its own drummer, and sometimes fails to do what competitors seem to do easily. A good example is smartphones with large screens, and tablets with smaller screens. Different screen sizes are not anything special. Clearly, for a smartphone manufacturer to differentiate itself from Apple, a larger screen was natural. Likewise, for a tablet manufacturer to differentiate itself from Apple, a smaller screen was natural. In both, Apple did not lead, it followed, but screen size is not a market disruption; merely a natural product progression.
Apple’s timing for new product introductions is impeccable, too. Look at Apple Pay. The technology has been lying around for a few years, but only Apple pulled together all the right pieces– at the right time– to influence the marketplace with a simple and yet highly secure mobile payment system. Apple Pay will take a few years to receive widespread adoption (it only works with new generation iPhones and iPads) but the iPhone was not an immediate adoption success, either.
The latest bar moving episode at Apple is the new iMac with Retina 5K display. Apple defined the all-in-one PC, and the anemic copycats from Dell, HP and others have failed to advance the state of the art. Just as Apple did with the original iPhone with Retina display, the new higher than high resolution on the iMac display sets the stage for the future where Retina-like resolution is everywhere.
Still another example is devices that work well and play nice-nice with one another; seamlessly, automatically, and built-in. Newer Macs with OS X Yosemite, as well as iPads on iOS 8.x, can start and answer phone calls using a nearby iPhone; or, edit documents started on a different device, or activate an iPhone hotspot without the need to pull the iPhone out of a purse, pocket, backpack, or briefcase.
Apple leads the PC and mobile industry. Every other company merely follows with something similar and cheaper.