The Theory That Hardware Is Easily ‘Mimicked’

Steve Lohr posits that IBM is the model for companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google to follow:

In recent years Apple has been unmatched in applying its core assets to new markets. Its hallmark skills are the intuitive usability of its software and the inspired design of its hardware — talents long appreciated by loyal Mac users. Yet in the PC industry, Apple machines are still dwarfed by those running Microsoft’s Windows.

Dwarfed in unit sale numbers, but number-one in profit share.

Apple looks to be riding a money train for some time. Its current model is focused on selling its stylish devices; the company’s online software and marketplace (for digital media and mobile apps) are mainly servants of the hardware, pleasing consumers so they are more apt to buy iPods, iPhones and iPads.

Yet Apple’s product designs, however impressive, will eventually be mimicked and come under price pressure, just as the mainframe did, predicts Michael A. Cusumano, professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In time, he says, Apple may want to borrow a page from I.B.M. and rely increasingly on software and services for its livelihood.

I wonder if the professor thinks companies like, say, Rolex and BMW ought to shift to “software and services” too? I don’t think this guy understands Apple at all.

Monday, 20 June 2011