This week I've been harping on about Microsoft's new APIs and Web platform developments, so it's only fair I turn my attention to Apple now. My friend Ben Barren reminded me yesterday via email that Apple has an integrated hardware/software/web platform. No other company has that on the level that Apple has. Google has a web/software platform and Microsoft has a software platform that is now turning into a web one too. Microsoft to a degree is creating a hardware platform, with Xbox and its Media Centre, but they're nowhere near Apple's level of sophistication yet.
By which I mean that consumers fall in love with Apple products - or at least lust. It's quite amazing to be chatting away to a fellow geek and then when the topic turns to Apple iPods or iBooks, the person I'm talking to starts to drool and even get a little flushed in the face. That's because Apple creates aesthetically pleasing products that people form emotional attachments with - and get addicted to. Apple fans are truly passionate about their iBooks and iPods and now iPod nanos.
There have been a couple of good blog posts recently on the subject of Apple's platform. John C. Welch wrote that the iPod has a standard and simple design, which makes it easy for third party hardware developers to create things like iPod cases, interfaces for the iPod Dock connector, and other accessories. There are many third party hardware developers for Apple products, says John, and the iPod accessories market is "astounding huge" compared to the iPod's competitors (Creative, Rio, etc).
On a similar theme, Nivi wrote that Apple has the dominant "digital content distribution platform" on the market. In particular Nivi singled out the iTunes and iPod combo as "the only digital content distribution platform that consumers are actually using (globally too)". He also pointed out that Apple could easily use iTunes to distribute other media - videos, movies and books. Hmmm, I wonder if Amazon is getting sweaty palms about now?
When you look at the market share figures, you begin to appreciate what a grand position Apple is in. The iPod has 76% market share and iTunes 82%. And they're already doing big content deals - Madonna and Harry Potter recently. Yes indeed, the Apple hardware/software/web platform is looking very strong.