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A competition of one

I'm not sure I agree with John Gruber on this, but it did give me pause.

"Canon’s cameras are better because there’s Nikon — and vice-versa. Canon-vs.-Nikon arguments can get ugly, but in the end, they’re arguments about two companies that make great cameras and great lenses. Apple has no such rival.

With cars, design-focused brands like Acura, Audi, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes, and Volvo push each other, and consumers get to choose from well-designed cars with different areas of emphasis. If Apple is BMW, who is the Audi pushing them to be more elegant, or the Acura or Lexus pushing them to be more reliable?"

The article is iPod-centric, and it's true that with 6 years of trying, no one has come close to matching the iPod's features/ease of use/price. But Apple is more than just the iPod. Apple has the entire PC world to compete against, and while no one manufacturer comes close to combining the style, reliability and ease of use of an Apple product, there are manufacturers out there who can compete with some parts of the Apple experience.

Lenovo laptops are reliable, Sony's are stylish, Toshiba's are full-featured and Dell's are cheap. Do any other them wrap all that up in one package like a MacBook? No. But that's not to say that Apple can't learn from each of them and borrow steal their best features and incorporate them into future products.

And at the end of the day, an Apple has one feature that any Windows PC will lack, the most powerful, stable and easy-to-use operating system on the planet, OS X. With such a lead, it's hard to see any real competition on the horizon.

“A competition of one”