BusinessWeek has published a special report that asks "Could Apple Blow Its iPod Lead?" That title is more sensational than the article itself, however, as it takes a very balanced look at how Appleis competitors might or might not be able to compete with Apple in the music player business. In particular, the author, Sarah Lacy, looks at whether or not companies like Dell and Microsoft can use the same tactics used to take Appleis computer dominance away. From the article:
TRULY INTEGRATED. In the must-have department, Appleis iPod is the only clear winner in this computer-to-electronics migration. Sure, Dell and HP have bested Apple at a game it dominated before, the PC market. But the iPodis success might have them thinking: "Whatis Appleis secret sauce, and can we steal the recipe?"
Analysts agree a mix of ingredients has clicked for Apple. Some of those might spice things up for Dell or HP, but most are pretty unique to Apple -- at least for now.
For starters, Appleis music products are truly integrated -- the outfit makes the hardware and the iTunes service and software. Other hardware makers are relying on Microsoft (MSFT ) and other third parties for software and service, so they canit control the whole customer experience.
There is much more in the two page article, and we recommend it as an interesting read.