In my last column, I wrote that Apple has become a major digital assetmanagement company. It has created an OS and UI that makes it very easy for users to manage, aggregate, distribute and even share personal content throughout an Apple-designed digital ecosystem. Because of that, I asserted that Apple is unstoppable: When it comes to providing a complete solution for the consumer, Apple has created a position for itself that makes it nearly impossible for other companies to compete head on.
Even though Apple has taken a major leadership position in the PC, CE, and even smartphone markets, the company does have some interesting competitors who are watching it closely and trying to figure out how to respond. But this competition is not coming from the traditional PC and CE players. Instead, it's coming from the likes of Amazon, Google, Real Networks, and to some degree, Sony, because of their strong investment in content.
Apple's successful position results not only from its operating system, applicationsenvironment, and user interface, with its ability to simply manage a person's digital assets, however, but also from Apple's direct role in providing content for the user: music, movies, and applications for dedicated mobile devices such as the iPhone and iPod touch.
So if content is part of what makes Apple king, then Amazon clearly has become a worthy competitor, with its content commerce model that delivers digital music, movies, TV shows, and books to end users. Amazon's cloud-based approach has made it easy for customers to access and even manage some of that digital content around a simple UI. But Amazon has a long way to go before it can deliver a localized approach to managing and accessing this content beyond standard PCs and basic mobile devices and across a broad range of products the way Apple does today.
Another big Apple competitor is Google. Its Chrome browser is actually a Web-based OS with a UI that lets it manage a user's cloud-based assets...