I’ve always been fascinated by the way Apple is viewed in the technology industry. The company is equally beloved by a massive fanbase that would defend it to its dying days and hated by those who refuse to believe Steve Jobs was really a visionary and Apple products are worth the price.
Because of those differing opinions, it’s been tough for Apple to get an objective evaluation. Those in the company’s quarters cannot possibly believe that Apple would do wrong or hurt any other firm. Those against the iPhone maker can’t possibly see a world where Apple isn’t hurting others.
But perhaps it’s time to peel back all of that and examine, once and for all, if Apple truly is good for the industry. After all, for every product Apple has killed, there have been several others that have cropped up because of the market the company created through its own devices.
So, I pose this question: does Apple actually inspire greatness in other companies?
Those who think so would say that the company’s track record proves their point. When Apple launched its Macintosh computers with a mouse, it became the standard that we all still use today. And when design became Apple’s core product concept, just about everyone else jumped on the bandwagon.
In the music market, Apple might have killed off other media players, but it propped up new business models across the digital-music arena. And if not for the iPhone, there would not have been a Samsung Galaxy S III. The iPad was an inspiration for just about every other tablet we have today.
Oddly, Apple might have found a way through its dominance to inspire other companies. Those firms might not think of an idea first, but they look at what Apple is doing and try their hardest to match it. Sometimes, they succeed and sometimes, they fail. But if not for Apple, they would have never tried.
Then again, there are those who see it another way. Apple’s products are great and all, they might say, but who’s to believe that another company couldn’t have come up with that concept? After all, touchscreens were on their way to the marketplace before Apple delivered it to the mainstream. And although the iPod was most popular, there were several MP3 players that could have filled that void.
For those folks, Apple isn’t necessarily as visionary as the company would have us believe. Instead, the company has found a way to communicate the right message to the marketplace at the right time. Call it luck or call it fate. Either way, Apple’s greatest strength, some say, is its ability to put what’s already been developed into a pretty package.
I guess it’s hard to say which argument is best. The fact is, Apple’s products are wildly popular and there is no debating that. And trying to make the case that something would have happened anyway isn’t always easy. But both points are valid. And they both shed some light on a company that is at once too beloved and too scrutinized.
So, let’s open the floor up to you: does Apple inspire greatness in other companies?
Don Reisinger is a technology and video game columnist. You can see what he's up to each day on Twitter by following him @donreisinger.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SlashGear