Why Apple doesn’t care about its competition | Felix Salmon

Why Apple doesn’t care about its competition | Felix Salmon.


I confess that I’m becoming a Felix S. junkie. He’s right about Apple and his critique of the clueless in their approach to Apple as a mere computer company competing with others is right on:

But if you look at what actual consumers are asking, it turns out that only an ultra-geeky minority is out there weighing up the relative merits of the iPad mini and the Galaxy Note. Note Nick Bilton, today:

Now that the Apple iPad Mini is here, I’m fielding one particular question from friends, family and readers: Which model should I buy?

The point here is that Apple has already done the work of persuading people to buy the iPad mini — it’s done it through many years of creating products which are a pleasure to use.

Which is why the bellyaching about the iPad mini’s pricing is very weird to me. Apple’s job, when it developed this device, was not to create something to compete with the Nook HD+. Rather, it was to build something which fit easily into the existing lineup, right between the iPod Touch and the iPad, and which would delight its customers as much as those two products do. The iPod Touch starts at $300; the iPad starts at $400. And the iPad mini, at $330, is right in between, where it belongs.

He argues a not unrelated point about Chipotle (CMG), where fool analysts (in particular, D. Einhorn) compare it to Taco Bell, in particular its higher-end Cantina. Einhorn is wrong to short CMG and even to imagine that consumers would consider as a choice Chipotle or Taco Bell, however fancier it pretends to get. The distinctions are categorical, and just because both are, to US consumers, “Mexican” “fast food” does not make them at all equivalent.

The issue is an evolution of what counts nowadays for many as a kind of class identifier. It’s not a simplistic one, but one whose thread is not easily broken and which weaves its adherents into a fabric of likes: a community of resilient consumers who rather than acting “rationally” (as Einhorn imagines it), act analytically, and seek to distinguish themselves, to prove their identity, not lose it.