A very interesting article in Fortune postulates that we’ve entered a new era for Apple. I think there’s a definite change in the air, corresponding to what I’d call “Apple 2.5.” The first iteration ran from the Apple ][ through 1997, to be replaced with Steve Jobs’ leadership and the one-two combo of the iMac and iPod. Now we’re moving into a new version, where Apple stands to be the most successful it’s ever been. Instead of making beautiful, functional, and expensive products, Apple’s started making beautiful, functional, and competitively priced products.
After years of being a small computer maker, Apple now has the economies of scale working for it, making its iconic products available to more people than ever before. Just look at the iPad and its tablet rivals. Not one rival has managed to match the price and specs of the iPad, yet it’s already on the second generation. Now the latest MacBook Air has been released, promising unheard-of portability and power for less money than any competing product. Intel’s ultrabook project is a start, but even then manufacturers can’t touch the Air’s price point.
The impressive thing about this transition is that Apple hasn’t wavered in its vision at all. The same experience that makes people love Macs so much hasn’t changed, and Apple hasn’t lowered its profit margins or quality control. The lower prices are all coming from an utter dominance in the supply chain. Tim Cook may not be as charismatic as Steve Jobs, but he’s a genius in his own right.