When Apple released their new Mac Book Air last week, there were posts that came out from the PC perspective which talked about how competitors like Sony had released laptops years before that were as small and more powerful. In a situation like this, people who defend PCs talk about how their products were more powerful and therefor Apple’s product is not innovative. What those people miss is that bringing a product to market is different than brining innovation to market.
While being thin alone doesn’t make the Mac Book Air an innovative product, it’s the combination of different elements that make it one. That combination of elements which creates a innovative product, then makes it fundamentally different than an incrementally product.
If a product comes to market with all the features that are expected and with better specs, then it lacks an innovative quality. Meanwhile, the Air is an innovation in size, in attention to how people use laptops, in aligning the product design with how the company perceives the trend (that they are pioneering) in mobile computing, and in hardware performance and construction.
The arguments that less features and power were made four years ago when the original iPhone came out because of it’s lack of a hardware keyboard. Since then, other smart phones OS’s have surpassed the feature set of iOS, and other phone manufacturer’s have been more powerful hardware like 8 megapixel cameras into their phones for more than year. None of these phones are selling as well though. While people think of the app store as the main distinguishing factor between iOS devices and other smart phones, I don’t believe, nor have I ever come across any reports that actually point to 300,000 applications being the key decision factor for new iPhone buyers.
The tech specs, the price, and the size of the MacBook Air can each be challenged when looked at in isolation. But in isolation is not the way to compete anymore.
When you see a PC vs Mac argument now, what’s different is the environment these discussions take place in is much broader, and the context of the discussion needs to change. Think of the many people who only started buying Macs after getting an iPhone. Whoever is right in a Mac Vs PC argument becomes moot if people do the buying based on which philosophy and brand they associate with when it comes to their phone, their tablet, and soon, their television experience as well.
My question is: How do you compete against this?