Apple gets lauded constantly for creating great products. But are its products really that phenomenal, or are rivals simply not competing?
Let's look at the MacBook Pros, the archetype of Apple industrial design (I'll focus on other product categories in future posts). As I've written before, they're the essence of chic: gorgeous, well-made, and well-equipped.
But are they really that good, or are PC makers like Hewlett-Packard--as an example of the most potent rival--simply dropping the ball?
HP sells a lot of business laptops. Its EliteBook line (and more recently its ProBook line) populate the desks of many large companies in the U.S. and abroad. That's undisputed. However, I'm not talking about conventional workhorse laptops. I'm talking about designs that create a buzz and, ultimately, define a company as truly different--like Apple's MacBook Pros.
So, what did HP come up with as a "different" design in response to the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air? The Envy (a kind of follow-on to the ultrathin Voodoo Envy). When I first saw the Envy 13 and 15 last fall (just after the line was announced) on display at a conference, I could see HP was on the right track and, in fact, the Envy 13 beat the Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro in some respects, as I spelled out.
But, now, about six months later, and just after a MacBook Pro refresh, it's apparent the Envy isn't winning the race. Yes, the 13-inch Envy is thin and light. But not remarkably so. Yes, it's attractive, but not different enough to send throngs of consumers scurrying away from the MacBook Pro. And the Envy 13 seems doomed to fail at $1,499. Most consumers compare it to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is priced at $1,199, a whopping $300 less. That's not competition, that's capitulation.… Read more