Thursday, March 02, 2006

Is Apple becomming the next SONY?

With the introduction of the iPod Hi-Fi on Tuesday, Apple has started to clearly follow a path that would not been thought possible for the company a few years ago: they are starting to introduce consumer electronic products that appeal to users more because of the "Apple" brand than anything else.

As a byproduct of the huge success of iPod in the market, Apple is nowadays viewed not only as a computer company, but as designer of beautiful and useful products (with a bend for musical technologies). This is clearly very different from the view held about the company during the 80s and 90s.

During the 80s, Apple was perceived just as one of the pioneers of personal computers. In fact, some Apple followers bought Macs because they liked the feeling of being using machines from the pioneers of the personal computing industry. Remember, for example, that was in the 80s that Apple released the first mass produced computer with a graphical interface.

For a good part of the 90s, on the other hand, Apple was viewed as a decadent company, living only of the small number of fanatic followers that bought their products. This was in some sense correct, because the company loose touch of the larger computer market, and instead continued to strive only for niches such as sound editing, graphical design, and related areas.

Now, after the iPod, Apple is viewed not only as a computer company, but also as a household brand for good engineered and designed products. And by doing this, Apple is repeating in USA what other companies from Asia, especially SONY, have been able to do: use the simple appearance of its logo to convey the idea of high technology and design.

The release of the iPod Wi-Fi, represents therefore the recognition that Apple can be much more than a computer company. They can leverage the brand to launch a high range of consumer electronic products, which, if successful, will attract the same crowds that bought iPods in the beginning of the 2000s. Let us see if this really proves the right way for the company to do during the next few years. My only desire on all this is that Apple be successful, but don't forget their origins as makers of good computers.

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