Thursday, July 19, 2007

Competition is Good!

When reading technology news stories about companies trying to enter the MP3 player market, the immediate result tends to be droves of serious Apple fans clogging the comment sections stating how certain companies should stay out of the business, give up on making the devices, or even go as far as to say that those companies should not be allowed to enter the market. The intensity of the rhetoric is astoundingly political in nature. Anyone defending a new entry into the market is often tagged as stupid or a paid troll for the company in question (which is like Michael Moore's only comeback to criticism of his new movie). This was especially the case with the Microsoft PlaysForSure campaign and the debut of the Microsoft Zune player last fall.

Apple does make high quality products and has revolutionized the distribution of music. However, that success does not mean that other companies should not attempt to enter the MP3 player market. The main argument against Microsoft was that it was already wildly successful with its operating systems, servers, office software, and gaming consoles. So, it was foolish of Microsoft (spelled Micro$oft by them) to want to enter an "already crowded" MP3 market given their dominance in other areas and Apple's firm grip on the MP3 market. If this argument was used consistently by the zealot Apple fans, then why would Apple have wanted to enter a cellphone+PDA market already dominated by the Blackberry (aka "Crackberry"), Palm Treo, and the plethora of Windows Mobile equipped devices? Extending it further, should Apple give up on the Macintosh operating system and start selling Windows computers because they cannot make significant gains against Windows?

Although the Zune and other emerging MP3 players have not been able to take away a significant amount of Apple's market share, some of the continued success of the iPod can be attributed to the capitalist ideal that competition accelerates innovation. In a similar fashion, the introduction of the iPhone is going to push Blackberry, Palm, and the manufacturers of Windows Mobile devices to continue making outstanding mobile products, and this will subsequently move Apple to make better iPhones. This will thus create a reciprocal cycle of high-quality technology. True supporters of Apple products will welcome competition, not necessarily because they are looking for an alternative product, but because new competition will serve as a catalyst of accountability for future Apple products.

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