I have no intention of replacing my many years-old MacBook Pro. When I do finally replace it, almost certainly it will be with another Mac laptop. Frankly, on a dollar for dollar comparison, and hell, even in absolute terms, I find nothing that comes close to being as good as my MacBook.
Except for maybe another MacBook.
Why is this?
Honestly, I do not know. Perhaps the licensing model, for it to work most successfully, demands scale and scale demands cheap. At least, when multiple partners are involved. Perhaps the licensing model places expertise on hardware and software and manufacturing and sales across many divergent (semi) independent units. Which, in theory, leads to maximizing expertise and innovation, ensuring the best outcome.
Except it doesn't.
Apple's model, as the French would say, with that puzzled look on their faces they are famous for, works in practice but not in theory.
Does the licensing model demand, perhaps unfairly, probably un-attainably, that each link in the chain be as relentlessly committed to quality and innovation as the company that possesses all the links?
Can the licensing model, then, ever reach parity with Apple?
The fact of the matter is, while Apple may offer the "best" laptops, competitors ought to at least be damn close. Only, they're not. Worse, the gap between Apple and the competition is widening. At least, in my view.
It's not this way with tablets and absolutely not like this with smartphones. Yet.
I believe Apple makes the best tablets, by far. But, the very latest Nexus tablets are at least, well, if not in the ballpark, sort of driving around, looking for a place to park.
With smartphones, while I think Apple makes the best, there are numerous devices that can at least compete with Apple. Maybe they won't best Apple, but they have a shot. And for many users, these competitors will prove superior and/or better able to suit their needs.
Will this last?
Seems to me we are at that inflection point where enough competitors can now make enough good-enough product -- smartphones and tablets -- that for the price, they are a worthy alternative to Apple.
Since Apple is loathe to relinquish pricing power -- or margins -- this necessarily means a smaller percentage will buy Apple smartphones or Apple tablets. Of course, the market for both is growing, so Apple will do just fine.
But I still am left to wonder: will these good-enough products by LG, Samsung, Nokia and others remain good enough? For one year? Five years?
Is the licensing model always doomed to failure?
Does the fact that, say, Google's business model is based on advertising and Samsung's is based on selling physical goods necessarily mean that at some point in time, possibly soon, their divergent interests will result in, well, shite?
Go to any electronics store and compare "PCs" to Macs. There is simply no rational explanation for why Apple is head and shoulders superior. Better, yes. But so radically better?
I don't have an answer. I simply wonder if any grouping of companies will make the equal (or better) of an Apple device and then, year after year, continue to improve it, make it better, bit by bit, such that, in five years, let's say, the OS company (Google) and the hardware company (many) will have a demonstrably superior product that we can trust so much that we tell our friends, spend our money, and keep coming back.
I have my doubts.
Perhaps the PC model biases me. But as it stands now, I am confident that, little by little, or maybe big by big, Apple will improve each of its products, year after year, forever and ever. I simply don't believe the same from Samsung or Sony or Motorola or HTC.
Dell and HP and Asus and Lenovo any many others, mostly dead, and unfairly, perhaps, have taught me that Apple will *always* be the safe choice. The others might be good, may at some point be better. But next year? And the year after that?
Given that I have limited funds, who do you think will get my money?