Could an OEM like Dell ever be as cool and as stylish as Apple?

The news that Apple now commands a massive 66% of the market share of PCs costing more than $1,000 and 14% of the overall market mush have sent shivers through some of the big OEMs. Part of Apple's runaway success has to be down to the fact that the company and its products are seen as being cool and stylish. Could an OEM like Dell ever be as cool and as stylish as Apple?

The news that Apple now commands a massive 66% of the market share of PCs costing more than $1,000 and 14% of the overall market mush have sent shivers through some of the big OEMs. Part of Apple's runaway success has to be down to the fact that the company and its products are seen as being cool and stylish. Could an OEM like Dell ever be as cool and as stylish as Apple?

Over the weekend my daughter showed me the new Dell Inspiron notebook. Overall it's a nice machine that does everything she wants it to do (email, Facebook, IM, bit of gaming, photo storage ...), but there's no way that I'd say that the system had a tenth of the cool or style of an Apple system. Sure, she had bought one with a purple shell, and Dell had thoughtfully set the desktop background to match, but beyond that it was just a notebook. The build quality was average and the feel of the notebook was average. But then that's the problem - most OEMs feel that average is enough. Compared to a MacBook or a MacBook Pro, the Dell looks and feels awfully generic.

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After looking at the numbers NPD Group released yesterday I'm more than certain the big OEMs will be (or at least they should be) taking a look at why Apple is doing so well and why they are not.

The fact that Macs are outside of the Windows ecosystem might be one reason why Apple is doing so well, and there's not much that the OEMs can do about that, but the fact that sales are so strong in the +$1,000 category says that there's more to the story than Windows. It's about the perceived value for money that the buyer is getting. Apple has invested a lot of money and effort into not only making the product feel special (the build quality of Apple products is exceptional), but also the customer. Apple manages to give the impression of selling a luxury product (maybe a Swiss watch or a luxury car) without the astronomical price tag. I'm pretty sure that many of those who are new to Apple feel just a little bit special because they bought a Mac. When I asked my daughter whether she felt special because she'd bought a Dell, she replied that it was about as special as eating at MickeyD's. Well there's your problem ...

Thoughts?